Chiefs welcome Lauaki back for Super 14 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Chiefs welcome Lauaki back for Super 14

26/02/2009 02:49:17 PM Comments (0)

The Chiefs welcome back Sione Lauaki to bolster their pack for the Super 14 rugby match against the unbeaten Sharks in Hamilton on Saturday night but two current All Blacks remain unavailable.

Lauaki has been named at No.8 after recovering from a hamstring strain sustained during the team's opening round loss to the Crusaders on February 14.

However, experienced backs Mils Muliaina (back) and centre Richard Kahui (hip) need at least another week to recover from their injuries.

Lauaki's physical presence should boost a Chiefs pack that performed abysmally during last weekend's 7-11 loss to the Waratahs in Sydney.

Coach Ian Foster has made three other changes to his starting pack.

Craig Clarke returns at lock in place on Toby Lynn while the heavily scrutinised front row has also been remodelled.

Tighthead prop Ben May drops to the bench for James McGougan while Aled de Malmanche starts at hooker despite experiencing difficulty throwing the ball accurately at lineout time when he entered the fray in Sydney. Hika Elliot starts on the bench.

"The changes are about injecting fresh energy and enthusiasm into the starting pack following on from two tough away games," Foster said.

"We now also have a reserves bench this week with something to prove."

While Muliaina and Kahui remain unavailable, Foster has reintroduced veteran Sosene Anesi at fullback for Mike Delany after he was omitted from New Zealand's World Cup sevens squad.

Anesi makes his first appearance of the campaign.

The Chiefs first home game of the season doubles as a milestone for first five-eighth Stephen Donald, who makes his 50th appearance for the franchise.

Donald links again with halfback Brendon Leonard, plus midfielders Callum Bruce and Dwayne Sweeney, a combination Foster felt was finding its feet.

"With the continued absence of Mils and Richard it gives another opportunity for this backline to play together and build on its great defensive effort from last week," Foster said.

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