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The land of the black sand is a fitting venue for the Gallagher Chiefs to host a determined Sharks team this Friday at Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth.

The 7:35pm fixture is the fourth home game for the Gallagher Chiefs and one for the history books, with it being the first time the two teams have met on Taranaki soil. The New Zealand Conference leaders have played the South African side nine times in the last decade, with the two-time Investec Super Rugby champions winning five games to the Sharks four.

Gallagher Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has made five changes to the starting fifteen which defeated the Hurricanes in a one-point thriller last Saturday. In the forwards Hika Elliot and Japan Test prop Hiroshi Yamashita will pack down alongside Taranaki loosehead Mitchell Graham who makes his seventh consecutive start for the Chiefs. Dominic Bird returns from injury to partner at lock with Brodie Retallick. Taleni Seu is promoted from the reserves to wear jersey six, alongside co-captain Sam Cane and number 8 Michael Leitch.

There’s just one change in the backs with Anton Lienert-Brown returning from injury to start at second five-eighth. He is joined in the mid-field by Taranaki’s Seta Tamanivalu at centre. Brad Weber starts at halfback with support from co-captain Aaron Cruden at first five-eighth. Sam McNicol, Toni Pulu and Damian McKenzie complete the backline in jerseys 11, 14 and 15 respectively.

Friday evening’s match is particularly special for two Gallagher Chiefs players. 27-year-old Tasman prop Kane Hames is set to make his first appearance in a Gallagher Chiefs jersey, while 21-year-old Taranaki loose-forward Lachlan Boshier is in line to make his Investec Super Rugby debut should he come off the bench.

Head coach Dave Rennie said the Gallagher Chiefs were eager to play at Yarrow Stadium, with Taranaki well represented in the squad.

“We’re looking forward to spending time in the southernmost part of Chiefs country when we take on a quality Sharks side at Yarrow Stadium this Friday. As a Club, we have a very strong relationship with Taranaki Rugby that continues to grow from strength-to-strength. At present, 8 Taranaki players are involved in the Gallagher Chiefs squad including Lachlan Boshier who is in line to make his debut this Friday, with a further 5 players in this year’s Chiefs Development side.

“A major driver for Taranaki Rugby in joining the Chiefs whanau was to bring more Super Rugby games to the province. We continue to deliver on that objective, with this being our fifth game in three years. We urge Taranaki to make the most of this opportunity to see some of the best rugby players in the world in their own backyard. Get along this Friday to support your own and share in the experience with us” said Rennie.

The Taranaki public is invited to attend an open Captains Run at 3pm on Thursday at Yarrow Stadium ahead of the Gallagher Chiefs clash against the Sharks. On Friday, the action starts early with gates opening at 5pm ahead of the curtain raiser between Francis Douglas Memorial College and St Peters College Auckland which kicks off at 5.10pm. Tickets are on sale now and available from the TSB Showplace, i-Sites in Stratford and Hawera, 0800 4 CHIEFS, ticketdirect.co.nz or from Gate 1 at Yarrow Stadium from 10am on Game Day.

The Gallagher Chiefs team to play the Sharks is:

1. Mitchell Graham (19)
2. Hika Elliot (94)
3. Hiroshi Yamashita (3)
4. Dominic Bird (1)
5. Brodie Retallick (63)
6. Taleni Seu (8)
7. Sam Cane (73) co-captain
8. Michael Leitch (20)
9. Brad Weber (32)
10. Aaron Cruden (64) co-captain
11. Sam McNicol (5)
12. Anton Lienert-Brown (14)
13. Seta Tamanivalu (14)
14. Toni Pulu (3)
15. Damian McKenzie (24)

RESERVES:

16. Nathan Harris (14)
17. Siate Tokolahi (25)
18. Kane Hames*
19. James Tucker (3)
20. Lachlan Boshier**
21. Kayne Hammington (2)
22. Andrew Horrell (50)
23. Shaun Stevenson (3)

( ) = Gallagher Chiefs caps in brackets
*denotes Gallagher Chiefs debut
**denotes Investec Super Rugby debut

Not considered for selection: Nepo Laulala, Mitchell Karpik, Augustine Pulu, Johan Bardoul, Pauliasi Manu, Sam Henwood, James Lowe, Tevita Koloamatangi, Charlie Ngatai, Michael Allardice, Tom Sanders, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Maama Vaipulu, Atu Moli and Glen Fisiiahi.

The Gallagher Chiefs take on 2015 title winners the Pulse Energy Highlanders at FMG Stadium Waikato on the 7th of May. With plenty of key match-ups on the cards and the impending announcement of the All Blacks 2016 Steinlager Series squad, players on both teams will be determined to impress! Your Saturday night plans are sorted so get your tickets and join us as the Gallagher Chiefs take on the Pulse Energy Highlanders. Tickets are available from Stirling Sports, 0800 4 CHIEFS or ticketdirect.co.nz.

 

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