LIAM MESSAM will become the Chiefs’ highest capped player when the side takes on the Bulls in Hamilton on Friday night, while prop Ben Afeaki will make his return from injury.
Messam will play his 90th game for the franchise, surpassing Sitiveni Sivivatu’s mark of 89.
Afeaki will start at tighthead in place of Ben Tameifuna in what will be his first game since suffering a broken arm in the opening-round loss to the Highlanders in February.
He will be joined in the front-row by Hika Elliot and Toby Smith, who replace Mahonri Schwalger and Sona Taumalolo at hooker and loosehead prop respectively.
The other change in the pack sees Kane Thompson start at No 8.
Tawera Kerr-Barlow replaces Brendon Leonard at halfback and Jackson Willison slots in at centre for the crocked Richard Kahui in what are the only alterations to the backline.
Robbie Robinson and Tino Nemani come into the reserves.
Chiefs: Andrew Horrell, Lelia Masaga, Jackson Willison, Sonny Bill Williams, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Kane Thompson, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (c), Ben Afeaki, Hika Elliot, Toby Smith
Reserves: Mahonri Schwalger, Sona Taumalolo, Michael FitzGerald, Sam Cane, Brendon Leonard, Robbie Robinson, Tino Nemani
All the fixtures you need to plan your viewing pleasure!
Not all our own way for NZ teams
Pressure is on Benji, but shouldn't we remember SBW went to France (Toulon) for 2 years to learn the game.
With all of the news around concussion do you think there should be safety measures in place for players to ensure they don't play on after a head know? How and who should police that?
With the start of club rugby upon us, how can we maintain the value of the clubs in player pathways and community spirit.