The Gallagher Chiefs have named a strong side to travel to Melbourne to take on the Rebels at AMII Park on Sunday. With a 4pm kickoff (NZ time), the Gallagher Chiefs are chasing a vital game as they push for a top-four spot and home field advantage for the upcoming playoffs in DHL Super Rugby Pacific.
Key changes include the return of co-captain Brad Weber who has been missing from the team since being injured against the Blues on 9 April. Likewise first-five Josh Ioane has been out for five weeks and makes an important return.
Naitoa Ah Kuoi will return to the starting line up, reclaiming the number 5 starting jersey alongside Josh Lord in the locking duo. The Gallagher Chiefs will boast a big pack with Tongan Samipeni Finau to start at No 6 which allows Luke Jacobson to move to No 8 and gives the hard-working Pita Gus Sowakula a welcome chance to come off the bench.
Weber will be reunited with Ioane to guide the backs, with Emoni Narawa to start on the right wing and Kaleb Trask at fullback.
The Gallagher Chiefs are in fourth place on the same points as fifth-placed Waratahs and a point ahead of the Reds.
Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan said he is pleased that some of his experienced leaders are making a welcome return to action.
“We are well aware of what is at stake over the next three weeks. Everyone wants to make the finals, ideally at home, and the race to secure points and bring that to fruition is certainly heating up.
“We need to be focused and hungry for each game starting with the Rebels this week. They are a much better side than some of their recent results suggest, and will come out firing in front of their home fans.”
The Gallagher Chiefs team to play the Melbourne Rebels is:
Unavailable for selection:
Brodie Retallick, Laghlan McWhannell, Shaun Stevenson
Season ending: Reuben O’Neill, Simon Parker, Sione Mafileo, Anton Lienert-Brown