The Gallagher Chiefs head to the tropical climate of Fiji as the heat goes on their must-win encounter against the Fijian Drua on Saturday afternoon in Lautoka.
Victory will ensure the Gallagher Chiefs of fourth place on the DHL Super Rugby Pacific table, and with it will come the all-important home advantage for the quarterfinals next weekend.
They go into the final round of regular season three points ahead of the Hurricanes and four ahead of the Waratahs. The Hurricanes travel to Perth to take on the Force, who are chasing the last qualifying spot after their bonus-point win over Moana Pacific mid-week, while the Waratahs host the Blues.
“It’s a simple equation for us. Get the win and we can go home to play in front of our fans for the quarterfinal. We need to focus on doing our job and producing a performance of quality from the first to the 80th minute,” said Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan
“We know the Drua will throw the kitchen-sink at us for their final game of the season. They have some tremendous athletes if we give them possession and room to run. We need to do the basics, control possession and territory, and have confidence to execute and convert our opportunities.”
Helping the cause will be the long-awaited return of Gallagher Chiefs centurion, Brodie Retallick, who broke his thumb in the clash against the Crusaders two months ago. Retallick will join fellow All Black Tupou Vaa’i in the locks.
It will be a homecoming for Pita Gus Sowakula, who was born in Lautoka, and Emoni Narawa also born in Fiji, both getting the chance to run out in the starting 15 on home soil. With co-captain Sam Cane out with injury, the versatile Luke Jacobsen moves to openside, Pita Gus moving back to Number 8 and Samipeni Finau completing the loose forward trio.
The only change in the backline will see midfielder Alex Nankivell move to the left wing with Rameka Poihipi to partner the in-form Quinn Tupaea in the midfield.
There is added good news on the bench with the return of Josh Ioane and Jonah Lowe.
The Gallagher Chiefs team to meet the Fijian Drua on Saturday is:
1. Aidan Ross
2. Samisoni Taukei’aho
3. Angus Ta’avao
4. Brodie Retallick
5. Tupou Vaa’i
6. Samipeni Finau
7. Luke Jacobson
8. Pita Gus Sowakula
9. Brad Weber ©
10. Bryn Gatland
11. Alex Nankivell
12. Quinn Tupaea
13. Rameka Poihipi
14. Emoni Narawa
15. Kaleb Trask
16. Bradley Slater
17. Ollie Norris
18. Atu Moli
19. Naitoa Ah Khoi
20. Kaylum Boshier
21. Cortez Ratima
22. Josh Ioane
23. Jonah Lowe
Unavailable: Reuben O’Neill, Gideon Wrampling, Simon Parker, Sione Mafileo, Laghlan McWhannell, Anton Lienert-Brown, Shaun Stevenson, Etene Nanai-Seturo
Fixture: Gallagher Chiefs v Fijian Drua | 3:00pm NZT | Saturday 28th May
Location: Churchill Park, Lautoka, Fiji
Broadcast: Sky Sport 1
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