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Minor changes for Super Rugby semifinals

Damian Mckenzie will be a key player for the Chiefs against the Hurricanes in the Super Rugby semifinals
A key man for the Chiefs and possibly the All Blacks too, can Damian Mckeniz help his side overcome the Hurricanes. PHOTO: KERRY MARSHALL/DAVE LINTOTT PHOTOGRAPHY

Two big semifinals for Super Rugby this weekend as a weakened Blues host the ACT Brumbies while the top-ranked Hurricanes will be worried facing the Chiefs again.

The Blues are missing captain Patrick Tuipulotu, with a question mark around Akira Ioane as well, in what could be his last match for the side as he is off to Japan at the end of the season.


Blues vs Brumbies

Friday, 7:05pm; Eden Park, Auckland

However, the rest of the team is pretty decent and would still have to be slight favourties with only one change to the 23, as Sam Darry comes in for Tuipulotu.

The Blues have five consecutive wins in a row against the Brumbies at Eden Park. In fact they have won 14 games in a row at home in Super Rugby.

Still on the positive side for the Brumbies is that they've won matches on the trot.

BLUES: Stephen Perofeta, Mark Tele’a, Rieko Ioane, AJ Lam, Caleb Clarke, Harry Plummer, Finlay Christie, Hoskins Sotutu, Dalton Papali’i (capt), Akira Ioane, Josh Beehre, Sam Darry, Marcel Renata, Ricky Riccitelli, Ofa Tu’ungafasi. Reserves: Kurt Eklund, Joshua Fusitu’a, Angus Ta’avao, James Thompson, Adrian Choat, Taufa Funaki, Corey Evans, Cole Forbes

Hurricanes vs Chiefs

Saturday, 4:35pm; Sky Stadium, Wellington

The second semifinal will pit No 1 side the Hurricanes against the Chiefs, a side they've beaten twice this season, although the last time they lost at home was to the Hamilton-based side in 2023

The home side welcome back Brad Shields as captain as well as Ruben Love at fullback while All Blacks tighthead prop Tyrel Lomax returns from a month on the sidelines.

A crowd of over 30,000 is expected to be at the ground as the Chiefs retain the same 23 which put away the Reds in the quarterfinals.

Both sides have plenty of pace and creativity in the backs and weather permitting should put on a show.

HURRICANES: Ruben Love, Josh Moorby, Billy Proctor, Jordie Barrett, Salesi Rayasi, Brett Cameron, TJ Perenara, Brayden Iose, Peter Lakai, Brad Shields (capt), Isaia Walker-Leawere, Justin Sangster, Tyrel Lomax, Asafo Aumua, Pouri Rakete-Stones. Reserves: James O’Reilly, Tevita Mafileo, Pasilio Tosi, James Tucker, Devan Flanders, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Richard Judd, Bailyn Sullivan

The Chiefs have named Shaun Stevenson at fullback.

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan has the luxury of naming an unchanged line-up after their 43-21 quarterfinal demolition of the Reds in Hamilton last Friday.

Shaun Stevenson and Emoni Narawa have been retained in their back three after returning last week from hamstring and back injuries respectively.

Stevenson (at half-time) and Narawa (53rd minute) were both taken off as a precaution as the Chiefs marched into the semifinals for the third year in a row.

CHIEFS: Shaun Stevenson, Emoni Narawa, Anton Lienert-Brown, Rameka Poihipi, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Damian McKenzie, Cortez Ratima, Wallace Sititi, Luke Jacobson (c), Samipeni Finau, Tupou Vaa’i, Jimmy Tupou, George Dyer, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Aidan Ross. Reserves: Bradley Slater, Jared Proffit, Reuben O’Neill, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Simon Parker, Xavier Roe, Quinn Tupaea, Daniel Rona.


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