Super Rugby 2019: Chiefs trio back to take on Highlanders

Nepo Laulala.
Nepo Laulala. Photo credit: Image - Supplied

The Chiefs' injury concerns have been somewhat eased for their New Zealand derby contest against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday.

Stinging from the loss of All Black Brodie Retallick - who'll miss three more weeks with torn wrist ligaments - the return of All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala, stand-out halfback Brad Weber and winger Sean Wainui is a sight for sore eyes.

Laulala is back from a minor knee injury that coincided with his All Blacks rest week. Weber and Wainui were named to start against the Hurricanes, but were both scratched late with injury.

The All Blacks prop should add some starch to a pack that's been plagued with issues, particularly at scrumtime.

Angus Ta'avao will shift to the bench to make way for Laulala, while Ryan Coxon replaces Tevita Mafileo as loosehead cover on the pine.

In the backs, Weber's return means Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi heads back to the bench. Etene Nani-Seturo switches to the left wing to pair up with Wainui.

Injured Alex Nankivell and Stephen Donald have been replaced on the bench by Shaun Stevenson and Bailyn Sullivan.

After their heavy loss in Wellington, the Chiefs are mired at the bottom of the New Zealand conference and sit in second-to-last in the overall standings.

A Dunedin fixture against the surging Highlanders, fresh from a 52-0 win over the Sunwolves, is hardly the ideal antidote, coach Colin Cooper admits.

"We have had a testing couple of weeks and we know it isn't going to get any easier for us," said Cooper.

"We are not afraid of the contest on Saturday against the Highlanders. We have come together as a team over the week and remain focused on what we can control.

"We need to start strong and take that momentum through for the 80 minutes."

Chiefs: 1-Atu Moli, 2-Nathan Harris, 3-Nepo Laulala, 4-Michael Allardice, 5-Mitchell Brown, 6-Luke Jacobson, 7-Lachlan Boshier, 8-Tyler Ardron, 9-Brad Weber, 10-Marty McKenzie, 11-Etene Nanai-Seturo, 12-Anton Lienert-Brown, 13-Tumua Manu, 14-Sean Wainui, 15-Solomon Alaimalo

Reserves: 16-Liam Polwart, 17- Ryan Coxon, 18- Angus Ta’avao, 19- Jesse Parete, 20- Taleni Seu, 21-Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22- Shaun Stevenson23- Bailyn Sullivan


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