Chiefs name four debutants to face the Highlanders

updated By James Perry
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

#UPDATE Colin Cooper has named his Chiefs squad that will take on the Highlanders in Hamilton on Friday night.

The 23 man squad includes four debutants, first five Orbyn Leger, Tumua Manu gets a start at centre and Tongan-born Japan international winger Ataata Moeakiola will make his Chiefs debut from the bench, while All Blacks Sevens star Etene Nanai-Seturo will make his Super Rugby debut on the left wing.

Ngāti Kahungungu's Bailyn Sullivan gets his first start for the Chiefs on the right wing. 

Cooper is excited about the prospect of Sullivan playing on the wing.

"He's got the ability to play centre because of his skills, catch, pass and he's got the ability to play wing because of his natural speed. He just needed to get some training loads in behind him, and that's happened this year."

Brad Weber gets the nod over Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi to open the season, with the Ngāti Pikiao All Black set to come off the bench against the Highlanders.

"With Webby playing all the pre-seasons, and Te Toiroa not playing any of the rugby in the preseasons, it's just getting him the minutes," Cooper says. 

With two quality halfbacks in his squad, Cooper is predicting some great competition between the two this year.

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Damian McKenzie is carrying an ankle injury, and wasn't considered for selection. 

2011 World Cup hero Stephen Donald has also been named on the bench.

The side also sees the return of All Blacks Nathan Harris, Brodie Retallick (who will captain the side), Anton Leinert-Brown and Angus Ta’avao, who are expected to play limited minutes in the early rounds. 

The Gallagher Chiefs team:

  1. Atu Moli (29)
  2. Nathan Harris (44)
  3. Angus Ta’avao (17)
  4. Brodie Retallick (98) ©
  5. Michael Allardice (34)
  6. Mitchell Brown (21)
  7. Lachlan Boshier (30)
  8. Tyler Ardron (10)
  9. Brad Weber (57)
  10. Orbyn Leger*
  11. Etene Nanai-Seturo**
  12. Anton Lienert-Brown (55)
  13. Tumua Manu*
  14. Bailyn Sullivan (1)
  15. Shaun Stevenson (33)

Reserves:

  1. Samisoni Taukei’aho (9)
  2. Aidan Ross (13)
  3. Nepo Laulala (17)
  4. Taleni Seu (34)
  5. Jesse Parete (9)
  6. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (17)
  7. Stephen Donald (104)
  8. Ataata Moeakiola**

() = Gallagher Chiefs caps in brackets

*denotes Gallagher Chiefs debut

**denotes Investec Super Rugby debut