ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe, Friday 5.35pm (AEST)Last meeting: Round 7, 2012: Chiefs bt Force 20-12 at nib Stadium, Perth Head-to-head: Played 6 Chiefs 5 Force 1In Pukekohe: First clashReferee: Mike Fraser (NZL) TV: Live, FoxSports 1TAB Sportsbet: Chiefs $1.10 Force $6.25
Steve Samuelson writes: Force halfback Brett Sheehan will play his first match of the year after injuring his ankle during the Wallabies’ spring tour with Alby Mathewson joining Sam Norton-Knight on the bench. The Force last beat the Chiefs in 2008.
AAP writes: The Force were magnificent in defence against the Reds last week. But was it legal? Queensland scrumhalf Will Genia questioned some of the Force’s defensive tactics, claiming he was held off the ball, tackled late, and unfairly pulled away from rucks. The Force’s line speed proved too much for the Reds to handle, and they’ll need a similar effort against the Chiefs, who are yet to hit top gear despite sitting second on the table. A six-day break and a long trek to New Zealand could leave the Force vulnerable.
The Chiefs have opted to give flyhalf Aaron Cruden a rest by naming him on the bench, while halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow returns from a broken jaw.
CHIEFS: Robbie Robinson, Lelia Masaga, Savenaca Tokula, Bundee Aki, Patrick Osborne, Gareth Anscombe, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Matt Vant-Leven, Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (capt), Ben Afeaki, Hikawera Elliott, Toby Smith. Reserves: Mahonri Schwalger, Ben Tameifuna, Michael Fitzgerald, Tanerau Latimer, Augustine Pulu, Aaron Cruden, Asaeli Tikoirotuma
FORCE: Jayden Hayward, Patrick Dellit, Ben Jacobs, Kyle Godwin, Nick Cummins, Sias Ebersohn, Brett Sheehan, Ben McCalman, Chris Alcock, Matt Hodgson (capt), Sam Wykes, Toby Lynn, Kieran Longbottom, Heath Tessmann, Pek Cowan. Reserves: James Hilterbrand, Tetera Faulkner, Rory Walton, Richard Brown, Alby Mathewson, Junior Rasolea, Sam Norton-Knight