Chiefs name team for Hurricanes match amidst claims of split dressing room

Author
Radio Sport, NZ Herald,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 13 March 2019, 7:01PM
Damien McKenzie has been moved to fullback for the upcoming match. (Photo / Getty)

Chiefs coach Colin Cooper has denied claims that his dressing room is split after their horror start to the Super Rugby season.

The side has struggled with handling errors and defensive lapses in the early season, finding themselves without a win through the first four rounds.

And while their season appears to be on life support, Cooper has denied claims that the losing streak is affecting the dressing room.

"We work really hard on feedback and we've got good leaders in the group that will keep tapping in with us as coaches and making sure that we're all aligned and in the same waka," he told Radio Sport.

Despite his leadership coming into question, Cooper said the team still had the belief they would be playing in the post-season. Flanker Mitchell Brown echoed that and said the players had to take the blame for their poor start.

"I think he's probably unfairly copping a lot of the blame," Brown said of the criticism Cooper had been receiving.

"At the end of the day it comes down to the players on the field and how we perform so we've just got to go out there and do our jobs."

Looking to upset the high-flying Hurricanes in Hamilton this week, the Chiefs have made several changes to their squad, including moving Damian McKenzie from first five-eighth to fullback.

McKenzie's brother, Marty, will don the No 10 jersey in his first appearance of the season, while young gun winger Etene Nanai-Seturo has been demoted to the bench with Ataata Moeakiola joining the starting side.

The Chiefs had 13 players unavailable for selection for Friday night's match, including three of their five contracted first five-eighths. As a result, they won't be carrying a back-up first five-eighth on the bench so Damian McKenzie could be in line to slot into the role late in the match.

They'll host a strong Hurricanes side who will be looking for an improved performance from the set piece, with experienced props Toby Smith and Ben May given the starting roles in the front row alongside Dane Coles.

Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Sean Wainui, Tumua Manu, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ataata Moeakiola, Marty McKenzie, Brad Weber, Tyler Ardron, Mitchell Karpik, Mitchell Brown, Michael Allardice, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Nathan Harris, Aidan Ross.

Reserves: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Ryan Coxon, Angus Ta'avao, Taleni Seu, Luke Jacobson, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Alex Nankivell, Etene Nanai-Seturo.

Hurricanes: Chase Tiatia, Jordie Barrett, Matt Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Wes Goosen, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Ardie savea, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Vaea Fifita, James Blackwell, Ben May, Dance Coles, Toby Smith.

Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Liam Mitchell, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Finlay Christie, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Salesi Rayasi

 

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