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By Daniel Jeffrey
The Chiefs will be desperate for a win tonight as they kick off Round 5 of Super Rugby against the Hurricanes in Hamilton. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 5:35pm (AEDT).
Touted as one of the contenders heading into this Super Rugby season, the Chiefs have had a woeful start to the year. They’ve lost four from four, including some particularly embarrassing performances against the Brumbies, Sunwolves and Crusaders.
Tonight, they have the unenviable task of trying to break their duck against a formidable Hurricanes outfit. The Wellington side come into this one with a 3-1 record, their only defeat of the year to date coming against the Crusaders in Round 2.
That said, the Canes were lucky to get across the line against the Highlanders last week, and have shaken things up for tonight’s encounter. Ben Lam is out of the squad, with Wes Goosen into the starting line-up on the wing, while former Wallaby Toby Smith will wear the no.1 jersey, forming an entirely new-look prop pairing with Ben May.
All eyes will be on Ngani Laumape in this one. The All Blacks inside centre has been right up there with the best players in the competition so far, putting in a couple of barnstorming performances in the last two weeks. Playing his 50th game for the Canes tonight, Laumape’s a good bet to add to his five tries for the year so far.
On the opposite side of the field, the Chiefs have made six changes to last week’s starting line-up, but there’s one in particular everyone will be watching: moving Damian McKenzie to from flyhalf to fullback. The three-time Super Rugby player of the year hasn’t been at his lethal best playing in the no.10 jersey this year, and his shift to the back has been something of an inevitability.
Marty McKenzie will start at first-five, while Michael Allardice is back in the side to partner skipper Brodie Retallick in the second row.
On form, this one should be all Hurricanes. But there were signs of weakness in their pack last week – not ideal when you’re going up against a side featuring the best lock in world rugby, Retallick. McKenzie’s move to fullback should go some way to rejuvenating both the Chiefs’ attack, and their season.
Chiefs by six.
Be sure to follow all the Super Rugby action tonight right here on The Roar as the Chiefs host the Hurricanes from 5:35pm (AEDT).