The battle for second place continues as Super Rugby Aotearoa enters the final two weeks of the regular season.
Kicking off Round Nine, the Chiefs host the Hurricanes at Waikato as they attempt to maintain second spot whilst on Saturday, the Crusaders will be looking to bounce back when they face third-third placed Blues.
Friday 23 April 5.05pm AEST – Chiefs v Hurricanes at FMG Stadium Waikato, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport.
The Chiefs will be without Luke Jacobson (concussion) for the must-win clash, which allows Pita Gus Sowakula to come into the starting team.
Clayton McMillan has abandoned the experiment with Damien McKenzie at flyhalf, pushing him back to fullback and recalling Bryn Gatland.
Māori All Blacks centre Rameka Poihipi will be hoping to make his Chiefs debut off the bench, joined by Chase Tiatia.
For the Hurricanes, they go into this game without either Savea brother, with flanker Ardie set to miss the next 6-8 weeks with a knee injury.
Hooker Dane Coles steps up as captain as Du’Plessis Kirifi comes in for Savea.
Wing Salesi Rayasi also makes a return for Julian with Wes Goosen switching to the other wing.
CHIEFS (1-15): Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Angus Ta'avao, Tupou Vaa'i, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Mitchell Brown, Lachlan Boshier, Pita Gus Sowakula, Brad Weber (c), Bryn Gatland, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Alex Nankivell, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jonah Lowe, Damian McKenzie
Reserves: Nathan Harris, Ollie Norris, Sione Mafileo, Samipeni Finau, Kaylum Boshier, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Rameka Poihipi, Chase Tiatia
INs: Rameka Poihipi, Samipeni Finau
OUTs: Luke Jacobson, Sean Wainui
HURRICANES(1-15): Xavier Numia, Dane Coles (c), Tyrel Lomax, James Blackwell, Scott Scrafton, Reed Prinsep, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Devan Flanders, Luke Campbell, Ruben Love, Wes Goosen, Ngani Laumape, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Wes Goosen, Jordie Barrett
Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Tevita Mafileo, Alex Fidow, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Vaea Fifita, Brayden Iose, Cam Roigard, Billy Proctor
INs: Brayden Iose, Cam Roigard, Salesi Rayasi, Pouri Rakere-Stones
OUTs: Ardie Savea, Jonathan Taumateine, Julian Savea, Tevita Mafileo
Sunday 25 April 1.35pm AEST – Crusaders v Blues at Orangetheory Stadium, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport.
The Crusaders have received a major boost, with the likes of Codie Taylor, Sam Whitelock, Sione Havili Talitui and Cullen Grace returning to the starting line-up.
Scott Barrett retains the captaincy as he moves to lock whilst Tamaiti Williams has been elevated to the bench for his potential debut.
After two narrow losses, coach Leon McDonald has made mass changes to his side as they look to keep in touch with second place.
Stand-in captain Tom Robinson is unavailable after a concussion, with the duties shared by Dalton Papalii and Rieko Ioane.
Harry Plummer comes in as flyhalf whilst Tanielu Tele’a returns from injury and partners Ioane in the centres.
CRUSADERS(1-15): George Bower, Cody Taylor, Michael Alaalatoa, Scott Barrett (c), Sam Whitelock, Ethan Blackadder, Sione Havili Talitui, Cullen Grace, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo'unga, George Bridge, David Havili, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Seve Reece, Will Jordan
Reserves: Brodie McAlister, Tamaiti Williams, Oliver Jager, Mitchell Dunshea, Tom Sanders, Bryn Hall, Dallas McLeod, Manase Mataele
INs: Tamaiti Williams, Sam Whitelock, Cullen Grace
OUTs: Isileli Tu'ungafasi, Luke Romano, Quinten Strange,
BLUES(1-15): Karl Tu'inukuafe, Kurt Eklund, Nepo Laulala, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Sam Darry, Blake Gibson, Dalton Papalii (co-c), Hoskins Sotutu, Jonathan Ruru, Harry Plummer, Caleb Clarke, Tanielu Tele’a, Rieko Ioane (co-c), Mark Telea, Stephen Perofeta
Reserves: Soane Vikena, Marcel Renata, Ofa Tuungafasi, Taine Plumtree, Akira Ioane, Finlay Christie, Otere Black, AJ Lam
INs: Tanielu Tele’a, Soane Vikena, Taine Plumtree, AJ Lam, Kurt Eklund
OUTs: Tom Robinson, TJ Faiane, Leni Apisai, Alex Hodgman, Luteru Tolai
ANZAC LEGENDS: Stanley Bisset