April 29, 2021

Gallagher Chiefs named to face the Blues at Eden Park

Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan has named his Gallagher Chiefs team to face the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday 1 May. The northern rivalry will kick off at 7.05pm following the historic match between the nib Blues Women and Waitomo Chiefs Women at 4.35pm.

The youthful twenty-three includes six debutants, providing players with the opportunity to put their hand up to stake their claim for selection in the coming weeks.

Propping duo of Ollie Norris and Sione Mafileo are promoted from the bench to start alongside hooker Bradley Slater who re-joins the twenty-three. Locking duo of Samipeni Finau and Josh Lord will start in jersey’s four and five. Counties Manukau loose froward Viliami Taulani and Tongan International Zane Kapeli will don jersey six and seven respectively for their Sky Super Rugby debuts. Powerful Pita Gus Sowakula remains unchanged, starting at number eight.

In the backs, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi shifts to start combining with first five-eighth Bryn Gatland. Rameka Poihipi is promoted to start at second five-eighth with Alex Nankivell side-lined by injury. Poihipi combines with Sean Wainui who will captain the side for the first time. Shaun Stevenson and Bailyn Sullivan will excite fans on the wings, while playmaker Kaleb Trask will start in the number fifteen jersey.

In the reserves, hooker Nathan Harris will be joined by hopeful debutant Ezekiel Lindenmuth and tight head prop Joe Apikotoa as front row replacements. Experienced campaigner Liam Messam returns for his 180th cap in the Gallagher Chiefs jersey after being called into the squad earlier this week. Messam will line up beside Taranaki debutant Tom Florence as loose forward cover. Halfback Xavier Roe returns for his second cap, with exciting utility cover in Rivez Reihana and University of Waikato Chiefs Under 20 captain Gideon Wrampling to complete the twenty-three. Reihana and Wrampling will also be hoping to make their Sky Super Rugby debuts.

McMillan said the Club is excited for the upcoming double header at Eden Park this weekend.

“It is awesome, the women’s game is the one of the fastest growing parts of our sport. I know they have been craving for an opportunity to create another level of rugby for them and we will see that come to fruition on the weekend. We are really looking forward to seeing how they will go.”

“This game on the weekend gives those players who have been selected a significant opportunity to demonstrate that they are good enough to play in the final next week, but also put their hand up for regular selection during the Trans-Tasman competition. We are really happy for these guys and excited to see what they will bring on Saturday.”

Gallagher Chiefs:
1. Ollie Norris (10)
2. Bradley Slater (20)
3. Sione Mafileo (4)
4. Samipeni Finau (5)
5. Josh Lord (1)
6. Viliami Taulani**
7. Zane Kapeli**
8. Pita Gus Sowakula (32)
9. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (44)
10. Bryn Gatland (4)
11. Shaun Stevenson (37)
12. Rameka Poihipi (1)
13. Sean Wainui © (42)
14. Bailyn Sullivan (4)
15. Kaleb Trask (12)

16. Nathan Harris (60)
17. Ezekiel Lindenmuth**
18. Joe Apikotoa (3)
19. Liam Messam (179)
20. Tom Florence**
21. Xavier Roe (1)
22. Rivez Reihana**
23. Gideon Wrampling**

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

Unavailable for selection:
Atu Moli (hips), Alex Nankivell (finger), Chase Tiatia (concussion), Kaylum Boshier (shoulder), Laghlan McWhannell (knee), Luke Jacobson (concussion), Mitchell Karpik (knee), Naitoa Ah Kuoi (concussion), Reuben O’Neill (concussion), Sam Cane (shoulder/pectoral), Simon Parker (foot), Quinn Tupaea (knee).

Game Day Information
Fixture: Blues vs. Gallagher Chiefs, Saturday 1 May, 7.05pm
Location: Eden Park, Auckland

Gallagher Chiefs named to face the Blues at Eden Park