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The significance of this Saturday’s contest between the Gallagher Chiefs and the Brumbies will only truly be realised retrospectively. It could be the last time Dave Rennie leads his team into battle at FMG Stadium Waikato. It could be the last performance at home for a very special group of long-serving players that includes Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and James Lowe.

Gallagher Chiefs co-captain Sam Cane said: “As far as special games go, our match on Saturday afternoon against the Brumbies is right up there. It’s our final guaranteed game at home this season and I’d love for thousands of our loyal fans to join me in the stands to honour Rens, Aaron and the boys who are leaving at the end of this season. Let’s give them a turnout befitting the massive contribution they’ve made to our Club.”
Whether the Gallagher Chiefs play on home soil again this season is unknown, but some things are certain. It will be Stephen ‘Beaver’ Donald’s 100th Investec Super Rugby competition game when he takes the field against the Brumbies on Saturday night. Having captained the Chiefs in International fixtures against Wales in 2016 and the British & Irish Lions last month, Donald has already celebrated his century milestone with the Club.

The result of Saturday’s game will also ultimately decide the Gallagher Chiefs quarterfinals opponent. Currently there are two scenarios; the preference sees the Gallagher Chiefs pack their bags next Wednesday for Canberra to take on Australia’s best Super Rugby side, the Brumbies. The appeal of this scenario is solely due to the reduced travel time. To secure this, the Chiefs must defeat the Brumbies this weekend and in the later game, the Crusaders must draw with or beat the Hurricanes. The second scenario sees the Gallagher Chiefs depart for Cape Town a mere seven hours after their match this Saturday to play the Stormers.

The Gallagher Chiefs team to play the Brumbies at 5.15pm this Saturday at FMG Stadium Waikato:

1. Kane Hames (22)
2. Nathan Harris (28)
3. Nepo Laulala (12)
4. Michael Allardice (21)
5. Mitchell Brown (15)
6. Liam Messam (160)
7. Lachlan Boshier (16)
8. Michael Leitch (31)
9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (80)
10. Aaron Cruden (86) - Captain
11. James Lowe (50)
12. Charlie Ngatai (41)
13. Alex Nankivell (3)
14. Solomon Alaimalo (7)
15. Damian McKenzie (47)

RESERVES:

16. Liam Polwart (3)
17. Aidan Ross (3)
18. Atu Moli (25)
19. Tom Sanders (20)
20. Mitchell Karpik (6)
21. Finlay Christie (7)
22. Stephen Donald (101)
23. Shaun Stevenson (22)

() = Gallagher Chiefs caps in brackets

Unavailable for selection: Brad Weber, Mitchell Graham, Glen Fisiiahi, Sam McNicol, Toni Pulu, Taleni Seu and Dominic Bird.

Head coach Dave Rennie has opted to rest hard-working All Blacks Sam Cane, Brodie Retallick and Anton Lienert-Brown to refresh them for playoffs next weekend. Tim Nanai-Williams will rejoin the side next week following his commitments with the Samoan national team.

The Gallagher Chiefs will wear black armbands on Saturday to acknowledge the passing of Ron Hendl - a wonderful supporter, long-standing sponsor and member of the Chiefs whanau.

The Gallagher Chiefs play the Brumbies at 5.15pm this Saturday at FMG Stadium Waikato. Get your friends and family together and join thousands of passionate Chiefs fans for an exhilarating afternoon of rugby. Tickets are available from ticketdirect.co.nz or 0800 4 CHIEFS.

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