After 10 rounds of competition, the Super Rugby Aotearoa title will be decided on Saturday, as the Crusaders prepare to host the Chiefs in the Final at Orangetheory Stadium.
Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson has made just one change to the side that took the field against the Blues two weeks ago in Christchurch, with Braydon Ennor set to return from the knee injury that has sidelined him so far this season. Ennor has been named on the bench this week, with Leicester Fainga'anuku retaining the starting spot at centre, in what will be his first Super Rugby Final.
For the Chiefs, A formidable front row has been named with loosehead prop Aidan Ross, hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho and tighthead Angus Ta’avao lining up to start. Locking duo of Tupou Vaa’i and Mitchell Brown will complete the tight five, with Naitoa Ah-Kuoi covering on the bench. A powerful loose forward combination will see Pita Gus Sowakula shift from number eight to the blindside, Lachlan Boshier will don the number seven jersey and Luke Jacobson will return at number eight.
Brad Weber will combine with first five-eighth Bryn Gatland who gets the nod in the number ten jersey. Alex Nankivell and All Blacks midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown will once again combine in the midfield. Electrifying wingers of Etene Nanai-Seturo and Jonah Lowe return to the left and right wings. Playmaker Damian McKenzie will complete an impressive starting fifteen at fullback.
What the coaches say ahead of the final:
"Occasions like this are exactly what we play for, the chance to represent the people of our region on the big stage and play in front of our friends and family at home." Scott Robertson said.
"We've prepared well and enjoyed the week together, this is a team that really cares and will work hard for one another on Saturday night.The Chiefs will come to Christchurch with plenty of confidence, and we're going to have to dig deep," Robertson said.
“On any given day, any team can be beaten, and we have proven that. This weekend we are going down to Christchurch with confidence and believe we can upset the Crusaders. The Crusaders have set the benchmark for the competition and we respect they are a great side, but we have earned the right to be in the final and have a job to deliver on Saturday.”
“It wasn’t an easy selection for us, but everyone has played their part in getting the team to the final and for those not selected, they have played a big role to ensure we are prepared for this weekend,” - Clayton McMillan