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Where: Yarrow Stadium
When: 08.35 (BST)
Watch live: Click here to watch on NowTV from Sky!
Auckland Blues coach John Kirwan has made one change to his side to play Waikato tonight with George Moala promoted from the bench to starting centre.
He comes into the run-on 15 after Francis Saili suffering a high ankle sprain in the lead up to last week’s clash with the Reds and Jackson Willison succumbing to a hamstring strain during the game.
However, Kirman said Moala had earned the promotion for his level of play so far this season and looked forward to what might be able to produce with more game time.
“George has played there all year and has done a great job for us so I have no issues at all,” Kirwan said.
“One of the positive things was that when we had Francis fall over on Wednesday, Jackson Willison stepped up and he got injured in the first half and then George stepped in and we were pretty seamless which was fantastic.”
Auckland captain Luke Braid was left out of the team, despite being an outside chance of returning from injury, with Kirwan resisting the temptation to rush him back from injury.
Prop Sam Prettley has overcome a neck complaint and should be right to take his spot on the bench while Pita Ahki is also named in the reserves in place of the promoted Moala.
The Chiefs will have an extra reason to try and secure their sixth win of the season with Tawera Kerr-Barlow playing in his 50th Super Rugby game.
Waikaot has named a reshuffled side to the one that got belted by the Lions by 30 points last round, with prop Ben Tameifuna and lock Michael Fitzgerald starting.
Kerr-Barlow retains his place while Bundee Aki comes into the side at inside centre, Tim Nanai-Williams will line up outside of him in the 13 jersey and Tom Marshall will be fullback.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie expects another physical clash tonight, in what has become one of the more fierce rivalries in New Zealand rugby in the past five years.
“It is exciting for us to play our first home game in Taranaki and I know the boys are keen to earn the respect of the locals by putting on a good performance,” Rennie said.
“Traditionally our games against the Blues have been real ding-dong battles, and with not much between any team in the New Zealand Conference it is a massive game for both sides.”
1. Pauliasi Manu ,2. Nathan Harris ,3. Ben Tameifuna ,4. Michael Fitzgerald ,5. Brodie Retallick ,6. Tanerau Latimer ,7. Sam Cane ,8. Liam Messam (c) ,9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow ,10. Gareth Anscombe,11. James Lowe ,12. Bundee Aki ,13. Tim Nanai-Williams,14. Dwayne Sweeney ,15. Tom Marshall
Replacements : 16. Mahonri Schwalger ,17. Jamie Mackintosh ,18. Josh Hohneck ,19. Matt Symons, 20. Liam Squire ,21. Brad Weber ,22. Andrew Horrell ,23. Anton Lienert-Brown
15. Charles Piutau,14. Frank Halai,13. George Moala,12. Ma’a Nonu,11. Lolagi Visinia,10. Simon Hickey,9. Bryn Hall,8. Jerome Kaino,7. Brendon O’Connor,6. Peter Saili,5. Tom Donnelly,4. Patrick Tuipulotu,3. Charlie Faumuina,2. Keven Mealamu (C),1. Tony Woodcock
Replacements : 16. James Parsons,17. Sam Prattley,18. Angus Ta’avao,19. Hayden Triggs,20. Steven Luatua,21. Piri Weepu,22. Ihaia West,23. Pita Ahki