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The balmy climate of Suva, Fiji is an apt venue for this Friday evenings Round 13 Investec Super Rugby fixture between the Gallagher Chiefs and the BNZ Crusaders. It was at the same ANZ Stadium in Suva that these top two-placed New Zealand teams last met, with the Gallagher Chiefs fending off their southern foes 23-13 in a spirited contest in July 2016.

Gallagher Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has named a formidable line-up to face the Crusaders for the first time this season. It features five changes to the starting fifteen that defeated the Reds 46-17 in New Plymouth in Round 11.

There’s just one change in the forwards with Nathan Harris making his first start of the year at hooker. 25-year-old Harris, who re-signed this week with the Gallagher Chiefs until 2019, made a welcome return to Super Rugby two weeks ago following a long injury layoff.

There are four changes to the backs with co-captain Aaron Cruden returning to start at first five-eighth. Anton Lienert-Brown, who also re-signed with the Chiefs this week, moves to second five-eighth from centre. Sam McNicol is promoted from the bench to start in jersey 13 and Tim Nanai-Williams has fully recovered from a shoulder injury sustained against the Hurricanes in Round 3 to start on the right wing. 

The Gallagher Chiefs team to play the BNZ Crusaders at 7.35pm this Friday 19 May is:

1.            Kane Hames (18)

2.            Nathan Harris (24)

3.            Nepo Laulala (7)

4.            Dominic Bird (21)

5.            Brodie Retallick (80)

6.            Mitchell Brown (10)

7.            Sam Cane (co-captain) (89)

8.            Michael Leitch (30)

9.            Tawera Kerr-Barlow (76)

10.          Aaron Cruden (co-captain) (82)

11.          James Lowe (46)

12.          Anton Lienert-Brown (34)

13.          Sam McNicol (16)

14.          Tim Nanai-Williams

15.          Damian McKenzie (43)  

RESERVES:

16.          Hika Elliot (114)

17.          Siegfried Fisi’ihoi (20)

18.          Atu Moli (20)

19.          Taleni Seu (27)

20.          Liam Messam (155)

21.          Jonathan Taumateine (4)

22.          Stephen Donald (98)

23.          Shaun Stevenson (17)

() = Gallagher Chiefs caps in brackets

Unavailable for selection: Brad Weber, Mitchell Graham, Glen Fisiiahi, Liam Polwart, Toni Pulu and Charlie Ngatai.

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