Check out all the teams for Round 8 of Super Rugby Aotearoa, before making any wagers this weekend.
Teams via SA Rugby Magazine
Chiefs vs Crusaders (Saturday, 09:05, Hamilton)
Aaron Cruden will start in his 100th appearance for the Chiefs in their clash with the Crusaders in Hamilton on Saturday.
There are only two changes to the Chiefs’ starting lineup from the team that narrowly lost to the Blues last weekend, both in the backline.
In the first change Cruden rotates with rookie flyhalf Kaleb Trask once again, with Cruden starting his 100th game for the Chiefs while Trask drops to the bench.
The only other changes to the elusive backline will have Shaun Stevenson returning to the starting fifteen on the right wing, with Sean Wainui shifting to left wing following Solomon Alaimalo’s shoulder injury against the Blues.
In a further boost, All Blacks prop Angus Ta’avao has recovered from a long-term injury and could make his first Super Rugby Aotearoa appearance after being named on the bench.
He will be joined by young lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi who returns after being sidelined with a concussion. Waikato loose forward Simon Parker could make his Super Rugby debut after being named in the No 20 jersey.
‘Last weekend I was exceptionally proud of the efforts from the boys. This weekend we need to again strive for a full eighty-minute performance,’ Chiefs coach Warren Gatland said. ‘The Crusaders are a class act and will be hurting from the weekend but as a team we are ready for the challenge.
‘We have plenty to celebrate this weekend – Aaron’s impending milestone, a potential debut for Simon and we have both Angus and Naitoa returning from injury. We hope our fans come out to celebrate alongside us for our final 2020 home match.’
Chiefs – 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Anton Leinert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Tupou Vaa’i, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Reuben O’Neill.
Subs: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Simon Parker, 21 Lisati Milo-Harris, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Quinn Tupaea.
Sam Whitelock will make his 150th appearance for the Crusaders in their showdown against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.
The 31-year-old lock started playing for the Crusaders in 2010 and left the franchise at the end of the 2019 season to join the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan. But the cancellation of the Japanese Top League due to Covid-19 had Whitelock return to Canterbury to represent the Crusaders in Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Whitelock will auction off his 150th commemorative game jersey to raise funds for a rural well-being group.
Meanwhile, there are three personnel changes to the starting lineup, with scrumhalf Mitchell Drummond, flank Sione Havili and prop George Bower replacing Bryn Hall, Wheto Douglas and Joe Moody.
Crusaders – 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Fetuli Paea, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond 8 Tom Sanders, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Sione Havili, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor (c), 1 George Bower.
Subs: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Isi Tu’ungafasi, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Billy Harmon, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Leicester Fainga’anuku.
Highlanders v Blues (Sunday, 05:35, Dunedin)
Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger has made two personnel changes and two positional swaps to his side for Sunday’s clash against the Blues in Dunedin.
In a backline reshuffle, Josh Ioane returns to the flyhalf position in place of Mitch Hunt, who moves to fullback.
That sees Michael Collins shift from No 15 to outside centre, where he replaces Rob Thompson who in turn drops out of the match 23 altogether.
In a direct swap up front, Jeff Thwaites comes in at tighthead prop with Siate Tokolahi moving to the bench.
Meanwhile, the inclusion of utility back Bryn Gatland is the only other change among the reserves.
Highlanders – 15 Mitch Hunt, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Patelesio Tomkinson, 11 Scott Gregory, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7 Shannon Frizell, 6 Dillon Hunt, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Jeff Thwaites, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Ayden Johnstone
Subs: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Jesse Parete, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Jona Nareki.
Beauden Barrett has retained his place at flyhalf in the Blues team selected to face the Highlanders in a Super Rugby Aotearoa clash in Dunedin on Sunday.
Barrett enjoyed a long-awaited start at 10 last weekend, and looked far more comfortable in his preferred position after starting the competition playing at fullback.
Blues head coach Leon MacDonald has opted to keep Barrett at flyhalf, with Otere Black remaining on the bench as Matt Duffie keeps his place at fullback, while the wait for Dan Carter’s Blues debut goes on.
MacDonald has named the same 23 players that featured in the win over the Chiefs in Auckland last weekend, with the only swap coming in the front row where Karl Tu’inukuafe trades places with Alex Hodgman.
Kick-off is at 05:35 (SA time).
Blues – 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Subs: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Otere Black, 23 Harry Plummer.