Dynamic utility back Tim Nanai-Williams and exciting forward Taleni Seu are the latest players to confirm their futures with the Gallagher Chiefs. Nanai-Williams, 27, has signed a one-year deal for 2018, while 23-year-old Seu has committed to the Chiefs for another two years through until 2019.

Colin Cooper, who will succeed Dave Rennie as head coach of the Gallagher Chiefs from 2018 said: “I’m really pleased to have Tim and Taleni locked in for next season. Tim brings a huge amount of experience which makes him a real asset on-field and also as a mentor for our younger players coming through. He’s a versatile player who is able to cover most positions in the backline, plus he’s calm under pressure and gives the team continuity going forward.

“Taleni is an explosive, exciting player with a lot of x-factor. He’s a big man who can play a number of positions covering lock and loose-forward, and he’s very quick. Being in just his second year of Super Rugby, I’m excited to see him fulfill his potential in the coming years.”

Nanai-Williams said: “I’m really excited to sign with the Chiefs for 2018. This team has been a big part of my life over the past eight years, so I was very keen to stay on for another season and be involved in the next era of the Chiefs with Coops. For my young family, it’s great to give them some stability for the next 12 months and to keep challenging myself in an outstanding environment.”

Auckland-born Seu cited the Chiefs environment as a key reason in his decision to re-sign with the Club.

“I’m really happy to re-sign with the Chiefs for another two seasons. This Club gave me my first opportunity which is something I am very grateful for. I want to stay because I’ve enjoyed my time here so far - I really like the culture. It’s challenging but also fun and I’m excited to keep growing as a person and a player here.”

Tim Nanai-Williams made his Super Rugby debut against the Sharks in 2010 as Chief #180. The evasive Counties Manukau utility back has been a consistent performer in the Chiefs jersey, accruing 81 caps over seven seasons to date. Nanai-Williams spent 2015 in Japan, but rejoined the Gallagher Chiefs for the 2017 season.

At 1.82m and 87kg, Nanai-Williams is equally adept at sevens as he is at the 15-a-side game. The Manurewa High School alumnus represented both New Zealand and Samoa in sevens and also played for the latter in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Chief #262 Taleni Seu is the second-youngest of 12 children to his Niuean Tongan mother and Niuean Samoan father. At 2.02m and 115kg, the lock/loose-forward is a foreboding presence on-field and a popular, humble giant off it. Seu is a talented basketballer, which has likely contributed to his exceptional skillset and footwork on the rugby field.

His impressive exploits for Auckland during his maiden Mitre 10 Cup season in 2015 earned him selection for the 2016 Gallagher Chiefs squad, with Seu making his Super Rugby debut against the Crusaders in his team’s campaign opener that same year. Taleni Seu has played 28 games for the Gallagher Chiefs to date.

Gallagher Chiefs centurion Hikawera (Hika) Elliot will depart New Zealand at the conclusion of the 2017 Investec Super Rugby season to link up with French club US Oyonnax. Elliot, 31, has signed a two-year deal with the Top 14 side, marking the end of a lengthy rugby career in New Zealand that includes four Test appearances for the All Blacks.

Hika Elliot said: “It's with mixed emotions I will depart my beloved Chiefs family at the end of the 2017 season. I am moving abroad to tackle new challenges and experiences with Oyonnax in The French Top 14 competition which I am thoroughly looking forward to. I want to thank my family, the Chiefs, the fans and New Zealand Rugby for giving me the opportunity to live out my childhood dream to travel the world and do something I love as a profession.

My Chiefs whanau have allowed me to develop as a person and become a stronger man and for this I will be forever grateful. The many fond memories, the lifelong friendships and Super Rugby Titles I will forever hold dearly. I would also like to thank the All Blacks and Maori All Blacks for the opportunities I’ve had to represent my country and play rugby at the highest level. I will always be a proud New Zealander, Maori and Chief.”

Gallagher Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie said: “Hika is a unique character, cheerful and fiercely competitive, who has matured into a bloody good man. He is proud of his Maori heritage and hugely respected for his work as our Kaea. While his achievements and durability on the footy field are impressive, it’s his work with charities and community groups that have brought balance to his life. We wish him all the best for the next phase of his footy career.”

Hastings-born Hika Elliot has made an immense contribution to New Zealand rugby during his 13-year professional rugby career. The agile, hard-working hooker made his national provincial championship debut for Hawke’s Bay in 2005 at age 19. To date Elliot has played 108 first class provincial games, representing Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Poverty Bay and Counties Manukau.

Elliot, of Ngati Awa descent, attended Hastings Boys High School where he was a part of the 1st XV for four years. In that time he was selected for the New Zealand Secondary Schools team for two consecutive years, captaining the side in 2004. The powerful front rower was also a member of the 2004 Under 19 World Championship-winning New Zealand Under 19 team and has played 9 games for the Maori All Blacks.

Hika Elliot made his Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes in 2008, before moving north to link up with the Gallagher Chiefs. He made his debut for the Chiefs in 2009 and has played 115 games for the Club to date. In 2016, Elliot played his 100th game for the Chiefs, a feat achieved by only three players in the Club’s history – the others being Tanerau Latimer and Liam Messam. He has scored four tries this season, with a Super Rugby career total to date of 10 tries.

Hikawera Elliot is Chief #168.

The final seeding order of the tightly contested New Zealand Conference is still anybody’s guess just four rounds shy of the 2017 Investec Super Rugby playoffs. What can be guaranteed however, is that come 7.35pm on Friday evening, two highly motivated and courageous kiwi sides will throw everything at each other in the hopes of securing a win which could prove season-defining.

Gallagher Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has made three changes to the starting fifteen who narrowly lost 31-24 to the BNZ Crusaders in Fiji last Friday. There’s just one change to the forward pack with relentless number 8 Liam Messam contributing 156 caps of experience to the starting lineup. 

The remaining two changes effect the backline, with Johnny Faauli returning to the playing 23 to start at second five-eighth. The potent mid-fielder reunites with Anton Lienert-Brown who moves to centre for Fridays evening’s unmissable derby match.

The Gallagher Chiefs team to play the Blues at 7.35pm this Friday 26 May at Eden Park:

1.            Kane Hames (19)

2.            Nathan Harris (25)

3.            Nepo Laulala (8)

4.            Dominic Bird (22)

5.            Brodie Retallick (81)

6.            Mitchell Brown (11)

7.            Sam Cane (co-captain) (90)

8.            Liam Messam (156)

9.            Tawera Kerr-Barlow (77)

10.         Aaron Cruden (co-captain) (83)

11.         James Lowe (47)

12.         Johnny Faauli (4)

13.         Anton Lienert-Brown (35)

14.         Tim Nanai-Williams (81)

15.         Damian McKenzie (44)    

RESERVES:

16.         Hika Elliot (115)

17.         Siegfried Fisi’ihoi (21)

18.         Atu Moli (21)

19.         Taleni Seu (28)

20.         Lachlan Boshier (13)

21.         Jonathan Taumateine (4)

22.         Solomon Alaimalo (4)

23.         Shaun Stevenson (18)

() = Gallagher Chiefs caps in brackets

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

The Gallagher Chiefs return to FMG Stadium Waikato to take on the Waratahs at the earlier kickoff time of 5.05pm next Saturday 3 June. Rising Chiefs region rugby talent will be on show in the curtain raiser, with Hamilton Boys High School playing Rotorua Boys High School in the University of Waikato Chiefs Cup Final. Tickets to next Saturday’s Round 15 fixture between the Gallagher Chiefs and the Waratahs can be purchased from ticketdirect.co.nz or 0800 4 CHIEFS.

The Gallagher Chiefs have suffered their second loss of the season, going down to the unbeaten Crusaders 31-24 in a thrilling top of the table contest at ANZ Stadium in Suva, Fiji.

Despite holding a four-point halftime lead, and outscoring the Crusaders four tries to three, the Gallagher Chiefs were unable to hang on as the Crusaders finished strongly to claim the four competition points and extend their lead at the top of the Super Rugby standings.

The match began at a rapid pace with several long passages of play, before back to back Crusaders penalties saw them take an early lead with three points from the boot of Richie Mo’unga.

Some good kick chase pressure then caught the Gallagher Chiefs offside and Mo’unga made no mistake with another simple shot at goal for a 6-0 lead after the opening 15 minutes.

After slowly building momentum the Gallagher Chiefs then broke clear for a superb opening try. Aaron Cruden burst through a gap, thanks to a nice inside pass from Anton Lienert-Brown, and drew the fullback with a wide pass to Tim Nanai-Williams who finished well in the right-hand corner.

Just minutes later the Gallagher Chiefs were in again with an opportunistic try to wing James Lowe. Cruden found space with a well-placed left foot clearing kick and a wicked bounce allowed Lowe to pressure the defence before kicking ahead and diving on the loose ball.

The double strike gave the Gallagher Chiefs a four-point lead but that didn’t last long as the Crusaders hit back quickly with their first try of the evening. Centre Jack Goodhue made a break up the middle before popping a pass off the ground for Heiden Bedwell-Curtis to race clear and score.

Damian McKenzie then sparked the Gallagher Chiefs onto attack once more and a few phases later prop Kane Hames crashed his way over the line for the fourth try in a frantic ten minutes of action.

As halftime approached the Crusaders broke out from inside their own half and went desperately close to getting their second try. The Gallagher Chiefs initially scrambled well on defence to keep them out and then won a free kick off a Crusaders scrum which allowed them to clear to touch and go into the break 17-13 in front.

The halftime lead only lasted five minutes as the Crusaders struck early. Mo’unga launched a counter attack, reading a Cruden chip kick before sending the ball out wide, and a sweeping movement from their own 22 ended in a dazzling try to fullback David Havili.

Some good continuity with ball in hand saw the Gallagher Chiefs work their way into the Crusaders half, eventually winning a penalty but Cruden’s kick to retake the lead drifted wide.

Just before the 60-minute mark a brilliant long range attack from the Crusaders saw them extend their lead. It was Mo’unga again to the fore, making a clean break up the middle with replacement hooker Ben Funnell on hand to pick up and score a crucial try.

Mo’unga continued his impressive night by slotting the sideline conversion and opening up an eight-point gap.

Errors began to creep into the Gallagher Chiefs game in the final quarter as they tried to work their way back, and a lift in intensity on defence from the Crusaders kept them pinned in their own half.

Three more points from Mo’unga with just over 10 minutes remaining extended the lead to 11 before the Gallagher Chiefs finally sprung into life again. From the back of a five metre scrum Cruden worked his way into space to score handy to the posts with McKenzie adding the extras for their first points of the second half.

A fourth Mo’unga penalty pushed the Crusaders’ lead out to seven but the Gallagher Chiefs swiftly moved back downfield for one last crack. However, consecutive lineouts were disrupted and possession was lost with the Chiefs having to settle with just a losing bonus point to show from their trip to Fiji.

Gallagher Chiefs 24 (Tim Nanai-Williams, James Lowe, Kane Hames, Aaron Cruden tries; Cruden con, Damian McKenzie con) Crusaders 31 (Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, David Havili, Ben Funnell tries; Richie Mo’unga 2 cons, 4 pens) HT: 17-13.

Next up for the Gallagher Chiefs is a trip to Eden Park for a local derby against the Blues next Friday night (26 May, kick off 7.35pm).