History will be made this Saturday when the Chiefs U20s team plays their first ever International fixture against the Argentina U20s team at Massey Park in Papakura. It is the third and final match of the 2017 Chiefs U20s programme, offering players an important opportunity to impress New Zealand U20s selectors ahead of the Under 20 World Championship in Georgia from 25 May – 18 June 2017.

The Chiefs U20s programme sits within the University of Waikato Chiefs Development programme, which identifies promising Chiefs region rugby players and develops them for future opportunities in professional rugby, together with their Provincial Unions.

The Chiefs U20s vs. Argentina U20s match kicks off at 4.30pm this Saturday 25 March. Entry is free into Massey Park, Papakura to watch this historic match.

The Chiefs U20s team to play Argentina U20s is:

1. Alex Mitchell (Taranaki)
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho (Waikato)
3. Tevita Mafileo (Bay of Plenty)
4. Lachlan McWhannell (Waikato)
5. Sam Caird (Waikato
6. Luke Jacobson (Waikato)
7. Du Plessis Kirifi (Waikato)
8. Ajay Mua (Bay of Plenty)
9. Caleb Korteweg (Waikato)
10. Ciarahn Matoe (Taranaki)
11. Sali Tukania (Counties Manukau)
12. Orbyn Leger (Counties Manukau)
13. Sevu Reece (Waikato)
14. Tyler Campbell (Waikato)
15. Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty)

16. Damon Abraham (Counties Manukau)
17. Bradley Slater (Taranaki)
18. Jesse Williams (Bay of Plenty)
19. Sione Tuipulotu (Counties Manukau)
20. Tom Florence (Taranaki)
21. Joe Johnson (Bay of Plenty)
22. Te Ra Whata (Bay of Plenty)
23. Matt McKenzie (Taranaki)
24. Walter Fifita (Counties Manukau)

Chiefs U20s Management Team:
Coach: Tai Lavea
Coach: Tasesa Lavea
Coach: Paul Tito
Trainer: George Wardell
Video Analyst: Mark Ray
Physio: Kyle Turvey
Manager: Paul Galletta

Programme Manager: Kent Currie

A late flurry of 20 points in the final 15 minutes has secured the Gallagher Chiefs a 27-14 win over the Rebels at AAMI Park in Melbourne and extended their unbeaten start to the season to four wins.


While not at their best throughout the match, the strong finish was enough for a four tries to one bonus point victory that ensures the Chiefs remain at the top of the Super Rugby standings as they head into their bye week.


From the opening whistle the Chiefs showed their intent to play the game at pace but they were met by some well organised defence from the home side early on, which proved to be the case throughout most of the first half.


Both teams had scoring opportunities in the opening quarter with Chiefs first five Damian McKenzie and Rebels second five Reece Hodge missing shots at goal.


After coming away unscathed from plenty of early Gallagher Chiefs pressure, the Rebels slowly worked their way into the game but failed to get anything to show for it as Hodge was off target with two more penalty attempts.


The first points of match finally came in the 23rd minute as the Chiefs rumbled downfield and lock Dominic Bird pounced on a loose ball for a rare try after Tom Sanders had the ball stripped out just a metre from the line.


It was very nearly a double strike when a chip from centre Anton Lienert-Brown saw fullback Shaun Stevenson regather and tip toe down the left wing to score but he was to be denied by the TMO with his foot hitting the white line as he caught the ball.


A yellow card to Liam Messam for infringing at ruck time led to another penalty attempt for the Rebels, and a change in kicker did the trick with first five Jackson Garden-Bachop making the score 7-3 to the Chiefs with 10 to play in first half.


An injury to Toni Pulu then forced a reshuffled to the Gallagher Chiefs backline with Aaron Cruden coming on, McKenzie moving to fullback and Stevenson shifting to the right wing.


The frustrating first half drew to a close with neither side really threatening to add further points and, despite a lot of territory and possession, the Chiefs had to settle for their four-point lead at the break.


A superb start to the second half from the Rebels saw them strike first with wing Marika Koroibete finishing in the left hand corner after a strong midfield break from Number 8 Amanaki Mafi.


The Chiefs looked to have made an instant reply with Damian McKenzie dotting down after a quick throw in from Stephen Donald, but once again on review Stevenson had a foot in touch in the build up.


More good field position for the Rebels ended in another three points from the boot of Garden-Bachop to push the lead out to four points, and Chiefs coach Dave Rennie responded with some fresh legs from the bench.


However, the Chiefs comeback efforts became more difficult when young winger Solomon Alaimalo was yellow carded for a tip tackle as the match neared the three quarter mark.


Still with plenty of time on the clock, a patient build up from the Chiefs saw lock Brodie Retallick barge his way over the line off the back of a strong rolling maul for his second try in two weeks.


McKenzie added his second conversion of the evening to give the Chiefs a three-point buffer but that was quickly wiped out as the Rebels swung back downfield and Garden-Bachop nailed his third penalty to tie the match.


As the match headed into the final 10 minutes the visitors upped their game and began to take control, and it wasn’t long before McKenzie was able to land a penalty which was quickly followed by a well worked try to flanker Sam Cane to give some much needed breathing space.


There was time for one final try with the last play of the match as Lienert-Brown broke clear down the right and drew the last defender to Stevenson who finished off from 40 metres out to seal the bonus point and an important away win.


Gallagher Chiefs 27 (Dominic Bird, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Shaun Stevenson tries; Damian McKenzie 2 cons, pen) Rebels 14(Marika Koroibete try; Jackson Garden-Bachop 3 pens) HT: 7-3.


The Gallagher Chiefs have a bye next week before returning to FMG Stadium Waikato to take on the Bulls on Saturday 1st April.


The Gallagher Chiefs are changing up their bootlaces and their lineup ahead of the team’s first trans-Tasman contest for 2017 against the Melbourne Rebels on Friday. To celebrate the inclusive, uniting and inspiring power of rugby, the Gallagher Chiefs will wear a fluorescent lace in one boot. The other lace has been exchanged with our smallest fans and neighbours from a Hamilton Day Care. These vocal little fans cheer on the team throughout training from their day care each week and are the perfect example of how #rugbyisforeveryone.

Gallagher Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has made extensive changes for the Round 4 game at AAMI Park in Melbourne. In the forwards, Bay of Plenty hooker Sabastian Siataga earns his first start of his Investec Super Rugby career after impressing in his debut off the bench in the Gallagher Chiefs 26-18 win over the Hurricanes last Friday. Siataga will pack down alongside Kane Hames and Nepo Laulala, who start in jerseys 1 and 3 respectively for the fourth consecutive week.

The second row remains unchanged from the opening three rounds, with Dominic Bird and Brodie Retallick set to continue their impressive locking partnership again this Friday. Co-captain Sam Cane will don the number 7 jersey in his second appearance of the season. He is joined by Tom Sanders and veteran Liam Messam who return to the 23 this week to complete the loose forward trio.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow makes his fourth consecutive start of the season at halfback. There are a number of exciting changes in the backline beginning with Damian McKenzie who will start at first five-eighth. Stephen Donald will start in jersey 12, with Anton Lienert-Brown shifting out this week to start at centre.  21-year-old Northland outside back Solomon Alaimalo will make his Investec Super Rugby debut on the left wing, with Toni Pulu retaining the number 14 jersey. The evasive Shaun Stevenson should prove a handful at fullback in his first start of the 2017 season.

In the reserves, Hika Elliot, Siegfried Fisi’ihoi and Atu Moli provide experienced front row cover, with the hard-working pair of Mitchell Brown and Mitchell Karpik looking to add impact off the bench. Finlay Christie gets another opportunity this week following his debut game against the Hurricanes last Friday. He is joined on the bench by Co-captain Aaron Cruden and midfielder Johnny Faauli.

  The Gallagher Chiefs team to play the Melbourne Rebels at 9.45pm NZT on Friday is:

  1. Kane Hames (12)
  2. Sabastian Siataga (1)
  3. Nepo Laulala (3)
  4. Dominic Bird (14)
  5. Brodie Retallick (74)
  6. Tom Sanders (16)
  7. Sam Cane (co-captain) (83)
  8. Liam Messam (148)
  9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (70)
  10. Damian McKenzie (36)
  11. Solomon Alaimalo**
  12. Stephen Donald (92)
  13. Anton Lienert-Brown (27)
  14. Toni Pulu (16)
  15. Shaun Stevenson (10)


16. Hika Elliot (107)

17.Siegfried Fisi’ihoi (14)

18. Atu Moli (14)

19. Mitchell Brown (5)

20.Mitchell Karpik (1)

21.Finlay Christie (1)

22.Aaron Cruden (co-captain) (76)

23.Johnny Faauli (2)

() = Gallagher Chiefs caps in brackets

**denotes Investec Super Rugby debut


Unavailable for selection: Brad Weber, Mitchell Graham, Nathan Harris, James Tucker, Glen Fisiiahi, Chase Tiatia, Michael Allardice, Charlie Ngatai, Sam McNicol, Tim Nanai-Williams, James Lowe, Michael Leitch and Liam Polwart.

All Blacks, Gallagher Chiefs and Waikato halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow will bid adieu to New Zealand at the end of 2017. The 26-year-old has signed a three-year deal with French Top 14 Club La Rochelle, where he will link up with former All Blacks Victor Vito and Jason Eaton.

“I’m excited to announce that the next chapter of my rugby career will be with La Rochelle in France. It was an extremely hard decision to make, but I feel it is the right one for my family and myself. I’ve always wanted to play rugby in New Zealand and to represent teams like Waikato and the Chiefs which is where my family comes from. It was a childhood dream of mine to become an All Black and it has been a privilege to represent my country.

“Over the past couple of months I’ve thought long and hard about going overseas. I had really good contact with the Chiefs and the All Blacks throughout the process, but ultimately the opportunity to play rugby with La Rochelle and experience the French culture with my family was the right decision for me. At this point in time, I’m 100% focused on helping the Chiefs to another Super Rugby title and making the best of every moment I have left to play rugby in New Zealand” said Kerr-Barlow.

Melbourne-born Kerr-Barlow arrived in New Zealand in 2004 as a 13-year-old and attended Hamilton Boys High School. The hard-working halfback made his debut for Waikato in 2009 and in 2010 he was part of the New Zealand Under 20 side that won the Junior World Championship in Argentina.

Kerr-Barlow made his Investec Super Rugby debut for the Gallagher Chiefs in 2011 against the Brumbies. Since then the clinical number nine has become a mainstay for the Gallagher Chiefs, dotting down seven times in his 70 appearances to date.

Gallagher Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie said: “Tawera is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet and has been a pleasure to work with. Caring and competitive are two traits that stand out, but it’s his work ethic and leadership around defence that makes him world-class. Tawera is in the form of his life, we wish him well.”

Tawera Kerr-Barlow is Gallagher Chief #198