The Gallagher Chiefs have touched down in Tokyo for the very first time to take on the Sunwolves this Saturday in their Round Six clash at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium.

The away side come in to this game buoyed by two confidence-building wins in recent weeks against the Blues and the Bulls. The Sunwolves were also very impressive in Johannesburg last weekend, narrowly losing to last year’s Investec Super Rugby finalists the Lions by just 2 points.

Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Colin Cooper was looking forward to the game ahead in Japan against the Sunwolves.

“We’re really excited to be here in Tokyo, Japan. It’s the first time the Gallagher Chiefs have been here to play in this Super Rugby competition so it’s an historic occasion. We know how tough the Sunwolves will be to beat at their home ground so we’re focused on preparing really well for a tough match on Saturday afternoon.

“We’re always seeking to create healthy competition amongst our group of men and there are a few players who have really put their hand up by training the house down these past few weeks. It’s great to be able to reward that effort with an opportunity. Marty McKenzie has earned a start at fullback and Mitchell Karpik comes onto the bench as loose forward cover. We’ve been hugely impressed with Mitch Karpik’s work ethic and he had an outstanding game for the University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development team last weekend, his performance has demanded a place in the 23 this week.

“This is only game 4 in what is a hugely demanding competition so we’re focused on managing our players – particularly Liam and Tiaan who are both going extremely well but are carrying some niggles. Liam’s leadership is critical to our group and we want to keep him fresh and hungry with some big derby matches in the coming weeks.”

Cooper has made five changes to the starting fifteen who battled to the impressive 41-28 win over the Bulls at home last Friday. Canadian recruit Tyler Ardron comes in to the locking department to partner Brodie Retallick. It’s the Canadian’s first start for the team, after an impressive cameo off the bench against the Blues in Round Three. Taleni Seu also comes in to the loose forwards after a rest last weekend.

In the backline, quick-footed Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi starts at halfback, after making a fantastic impact as a substitute against the Bulls last week. Speedster Toni Pulu is back from injury for the first time this season at right wing and Marty McKenzie starts at fullback with brother Damian moving to First-Five Eighth.

It is a special evening for Waikato youngster Bailyn Sullivan who is in line to make his Investec Super Rugby debut off the bench in the number 23 jersey. Bailyn has been training with the squad throughout the pre-season and is also a member of the University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development squad.

The game kicks off at 5:15pm NZT and viewers can watch on Sky Sport One. Following this exciting Tokyo game, the Gallagher Chiefs have a massive fortnight of home New Zealand derbies coming up against the Highlanders next Friday 30 March and the following Saturday against the Blues, both to be played at FMG Stadium Waikato.

The Gallagher Chiefs team to take on the Sunwolves is:
1. Aidan Ross (9)
2. Nathan Harris (34)
3. Angus Ta’avao (3)
4. Brodie Retallick (86)
5. Tyler Ardron (1)
6. Lachlan Boshier (22)
7. Sam Cane (98)
8. Taleni Seu (30)
9. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (3)
10. Damian McKenzie (53)
11. Solomon Alaimalo (12)
12. Johnny Faauli (9)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (43)
14. Toni Pulu (22)
15. Marty McKenzie (9)


16. Liam Polwart (9)
17. Karl Tu’inukaufe (2)
18. Jeff Thwaites (1)
19. Michael Allardice (24)
20. Mitchell Karpik (6)
21. Brad Weber (45)
22. Sean Wainui (3)
23. Bailyn Sullivan**

Unavailable for selection: Dominic Bird, Tim Nanai-Williams, Charlie Ngatai, Fin Hoeata, Alex Nankivell, Regan Verney, Mitchell Graham, Sosefo Kautai, Sam McNicol, Atu Moli, Kane Hames, Shaun Stevenson , Mitchell Brown.

27 unanswered points in the second half has seen the Gallagher Chiefs come from behind for a thrilling 41-28 win over the Bulls in their first home match of 2018 at FMG Stadium Waikato.

The first 40 minutes belonged to the visitors, who showed their intent to play attractive running rugby and were rewarded with four tries, before the Gallagher Chiefs recovered superbly from a 14-point halftime deficit which leaves them with two wins and a loss from their opening three matches.

After a promising Gallagher Chiefs attack inside the opening 30 seconds, it was the visitors who got off to a flying start with a brilliant set piece try from near halfway in just the third minute, finished off nicely in the left-hand corner by fullback Warrick Gelant.

First five Handre Pollard nailed the conversion from out wide and the early points gave the Bulls great confidence, keeping ball in hand whenever possible and forcing the Chiefs to do plenty of defending in the opening stages.

However, a poor lineout then gave the Chiefs an opportunity to break downfield and they took full advantage. First five Tiaan Falcon's grubber kick was not covered by the defence and second five Johnny Fa'auli was on hand to pick up and cross the line, with fullback Damian McKenzie adding the extras to tie the scores.

A fine response from the Bulls saw them patiently build pressure once more on the Chiefs defence, working their way towards the line and eventually getting over with wing Divan Rossouw doing superbly to get the ball down in the tackle. Pollard was again on target from the sideline with his conversion to restore the seven-point lead.

Thanks to a mounting penalty count in their favour, the Bulls continued to enjoy all of the territory and possession, which led to their third try of the night as centre Jesse Kriel made a break and found Rossouw who dotted down for a second time.

Play began to open up as the match passed the half hour mark, with the Bulls continuing to look lively on attack but the Chiefs finally getting their hands on the ball more often.

Searching for points late in the half to get them back into the contest, the Chiefs forwards took it upon themselves to grind their way towards the line with lock Brodie Retallick the man to crash over for the five points.

McKenzie converted to make it 21-14 to the Bulls, but the response from the visitors just a minute later was simply stunning - a kick return by replacement halfback Embrose Papier split the Chiefs defence open with Kriel drawing the last defender for Pollard to score a fine try under the posts.

From the restart, the Bulls won a penalty and cleared to touch to go into the halftime break with a surprise, but very much deserved, 14-point lead.

The Chiefs started the second half fired up and immediately swung onto attack from a Retallick offload and strong run by McKenzie. After turning down a simple penalty attempt at goal, the resulting lineout saw lock Mitchell Brown get into good body position close to the line and he burrowed his way over.

Once again, the reply from the visitors was strong, with back to back chances deep in Chiefs territory seeing them go desperately close to adding a fifth try, but the defence from the home side was able to force two crucial turnovers.

This was followed by another moment of Chiefs magic as loose forward Lachlan Boshier won a turnover to launch an attack from inside his own half. A weaving run from McKenzie got the Bulls back-tracking with the ball quickly moved wide to Retallick, and the big lock went on a rampaging run from 30 metres out, throwing a dummy and running over several defenders for a sensational try - his second of the match.

McKenzie's conversion drifted wide to leave the Bulls clinging on to a two-point lead with just over a quarter of the match remaining.

As they had done right throughout the night, the visitors responded strongly to conceding points, scoring a brilliant counter attacking try but it was to be ruled out for obstruction, and proved to be a pivotal moment in the match.

Some frantic play from both sides then ended in the Chiefs winning a kickable penalty, and McKenzie made no mistake to put his side in front for the first time in the match.

Momentum was now with the Chiefs and, as they charged onto attack again, the Bulls were dealt a blow with replacement prop Conraad van Vuuren yellowed carded for a late tackle on McKenzie.

With time winding down the Chiefs were looking hungry for more points to give them breathing space, and from a set piece Fa'auli placed a pin point cross kick for wing Solomon Alaimalo to latch onto, beating the cover defence to score.

Shortly after the restart Alaimalo was nearly in again, bundled into touch just a metre short after a nice break from replacement halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.

The good field position allowed the Chiefs to finish strongly, but a knock on gave the Bulls one last chance with the final play of the game. As they looked to run it out from inside their own 22, they coughed up possession right on their own goal line and centre Anton Lienert-Brown was able to end the match with the Chiefs sixth try.

Gallagher Chiefs 41 (Brodie Retallick 2, Johnny Fa'auli, Mitchell Brown, Solomon Alaimalo, Anton Lienert-Brown tries; Damian McKenzie 4 cons, pen) Bulls 28 (Divan Rossouw 2, Warrick Gelant, Handre Pollard tries; Handre Pollard 4 cons) HT: 14-28.

Next up for the Gallagher Chiefs is a trip to Japan for their first ever away match against the Sunwolves in Tokyo, on Saturday 24 March at 5.15pm.

The Gallagher Chiefs are back in action this Friday when they take on the Bulls in the first exciting home clash of the season at FMG Stadium Waikato. The home side have had a week to recoup with a bye last week, after they managed a gruelling 27-21 win over northern neighbours the Blues in round three.
Head Coach Colin Cooper was thrilled for the team to be able to run out in front of the passionate home support.
“We are really looking forward to playing in front of our passionate home fans for the first time in the 2018 Investec Super Rugby season. The players have had a bye last week and are excited to go again and build on our last result against the Blues. I’m proud of how our players all played for each other last time out, and we will look to again improve against tough South African opposition. The team can’t wait to have the home fans behind them.”   
Cooper has made four changes to the starting fifteen who competed against the Blues nearly a fortnight ago. There are three changes in the forward pack with Angus Ta’avao replacing the injured Nepo Laulala at tighthead, Mitchell Brown coming in to partner Brodie Retallick and the impressive Lachlan Boshier moving into the loose forwards. Exciting youngster Tiaan Falcon is rewarded a start at first-five eighth after impressing the coaches against the Blues when he was a late injury replacement for Shaun Stevenson.
Angus Ta’avao and Sean Wainui both start, having come in as confirmed injury replacements for Atu Moli and Tim Nanai-Williams for the rest of the season. Wainui played a starring role in the win against the Blues, topped off with a great try, while Ta’avao made a good impact off the bench. Both players impressed throughout the pre-season, catching the eye of the coaches with their hard work and determination.
It is a special night for Bay of Plenty prop Jeff Thwaites who could make his Investec Super Rugby debut off the bench.
Fans can purchase tickets from, with prices starting from only $21 for adults and $11 for child. Kickoff is at 7:35pm this Friday at FMG Stadium Waikato.
The Gallagher Chiefs team to take on the Bulls is:
1. Aidan Ross (8)
2. Nathan Harris (33)
3. Angus Ta’avao (2)
4. Brodie Retallick (86)
5. Mitchell Brown (20)
6. Lachlan Boshier (21)
7. Sam Cane (97)
8. Liam Messam (164)
9. Brad Weber (44)
10. Tiaan Falcon (1)
11. Solomon Alaimalo (11)
12. Johnny Fa’auli (8)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (42)
14. Sean Wainui (2)
15. Damian McKenzie (52)

16. Liam Polwart (8)
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe (1)
18. Jeff Thwaites (0)
19. Michael Allardice (23)
20. Luke Jacobson (1)
21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (2)
22. Marty McKenzie (8)
23. Declan O’Donnell (1)
Unavailable for selection: Dominic Bird, Tim Nanai-Williams, Charlie Ngatai, Fin Hoeata, Alex Nankivell, Regan Verney, Mitchell Graham, Sosefo Kautai, Sam McNicol, Atu Moli, Kane Hames, Nepo Laulala, Taleni Seu, Shaun Stevenson

Fan-favourite Damian McKenzie has re-signed with the Gallagher Chiefs, extending his contract with New Zealand Rugby and the Chiefs Rugby Club for a further three years until the end of 2021.

Gallagher Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper was delighted to be able to continue to work with Damian.

“I’m really excited that Damian has re-signed with the club for the next three years.  He’s a great player with great character and brings a lot of confidence and stability to the team.  The contract extension shows Damian’s long-term commitment to the Chiefs and I’m thrilled to be working with him.”

Damian was excited to sign on for the next three years in New Zealand.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity to have signed on for three more years. My time in the Chiefs jersey has been awesome to date and the support I’ve been given during my time in Chiefs Country has been amazing. I’ve had an awesome opportunity to be able to sign on with New Zealand Rugby and hopefully keep achieving higher honours in the future.”

The 22-year old has 52 Chiefs caps, making his debut in 2015 against the Blues. Damian is adored by the fans everywhere he goes and is a proud ambassador for First Windows & Doors, one of the Chiefs Rugby Club’s major sponsor partners.

Damian has gone from strength to strength in Chiefs colours, lighting up the competition with his majestical runs, and becoming one of the true standout players in Investec Super Rugby.  In 2016 his stellar form was rewarded where he was given the black jersey in Buenos Aires to take on Argentina.

The versatile back has constantly excelled on the field, and has taken extra responsibility with the goal kicking duties which he’s thrived at.

2017 was a landmark year in McKenzie’s career.  Outstanding performances in Investec Super Rugby resulted in him winning Coaches Player of the Year at the 2017 Chiefs Awards, and Damian went on to be a prominent figure in the All Blacks camp, earning 10 caps throughout the International season.  He also featured at First Five Eighth for the Maori All Blacks against the British & Irish Lions in June.

The impressive playmaker has numerous individual accolades to his name, including winning the 2017 New Zealand Age Group Player of the Year at the 2014 Steinlager Rugby Awards, as well as Waikato Emerging Representative of the Year in 2014 and Waikato Sportsman of the Year in 2017.

Thanks to our Whanau for all your concern regarding our player injuries.  Here’s an update on where they are at.  Please leave your messages of support on our Facebook post for the players to read. 

Shaun Stevenson – injured his knee in the warm-up and will be assessed this week

Nepo Laulala – fractured forearm requiring surgery and is expected to be out for 8-12 weeks

Brodie Retallick – withdrew from Friday’s match after getting a poke in the eye at training.  He has completely recovered and will be available for selection next week

Atunaisa Moli – had complications from a quad hematoma which required surgery.  Atu has been ruled out for the season.

Tim Nanai-Williams – had surgery on Friday to stabilise his shoulder.  Tim has been ruled out for the season.

A gutsy come from behind performance by the injury depleted Gallagher Chiefs has seen them come away from Eden Park with a 27-21 win over the Blues for their first win of the Investec Super Rugby season.

The Gallagher Chiefs travelled to Auckland with no less than 15 players unavailable for selection due to injury, which was made even worse by the late withdrawals of Brodie Retallick and Shaun Stevenson, causing reshuffles in both the forwards and backs just minutes before kick-off. But an inspired 15 minutes to start the second half helped them overturn a halftime deficit for a thrilling four tries to three win.

Following the pre-game disruptions, the opening minutes were just what the Chiefs needed as they showed encouraging signs on attack with most of the team getting their hands on the ball.

However, it was the home side who struck first, working their way downfield with hooker James Parsons and halfback Augustine Pulu combining close to the line for the first try of the night.

Damian McKenzie, after missing a simple penalty attempt, then sparked a dangerous Chiefs attack, finding wing Solomon Alaimalo after a strong kick return. The play broke down close to the line but they capitalised on the good field position moments later with Number 8 Taleni Seu dotting down following a good carry from wing Sean Wainui.

The middle of the first half was dominated by the Blues and, after holding on desperately for several minutes, the Chiefs defence was breached again with Number 8 Akira Ioane charging his way to and over the line from 20 metres out.

Once more there was an instant response from the Chiefs with Alaimalo setting Anton Lienert-Brown clear down the left sideline, and two phases later Lienert-Brown found Wainui who broke through the last defender and scored in the corner.

More good field position followed for the Chiefs and back to back penalties saw them apply plenty of pressure on the Blues line, but the home side were stern in defence.

The final 10 minutes of the first half was physical and highly entertaining, with plenty of big tackles and long-range attacks from both sides, but in the end neither team added to their earlier scoring and the Blues took a four-point lead into the break.

A brilliant break out in the first 30 seconds of the second half saw the Chiefs go very close to scoring, coming up just inches from the line on a number of occasions, and a ruck penalty allowed the Blues to clear.

Tiaan Falcon, a late replacement following the injury to Shaun Stevenson, then showed a touch of class to slip through a gap but the final pass was lost in the tackle.

The early dominance from the Chiefs finally turned into points with a rolling maul seeing flanker Sam Cane get it down over the line to put his side in front, with McKenzie's conversion making it a three-point lead.

From the restart, a loose Blues offload was pounced on by halfback Brad Weber and he scampered away from the halfway line for a second Chiefs try in as many minutes. A McKenzie penalty soon after made it 17 unanswered points in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

Desperately needing a reply to the Chiefs flurry of points, a patient build up from the Blues was eventually finished off with a nice dummy close to the line from first five Bryn Gatland, and he converted his own try from under the posts to narrow the Chiefs lead to six.

With the Blues sensing their opportunity against a tiring Chiefs defence, they went on the attack once more but conceded a scrum penalty which relieved the danger as the match headed into the final 10 minutes.

As time began to run out for the Blues they continued to apply pressure but timely turnovers by the Chiefs, and some brilliant tactical kicking for field position by McKenzie, ensured they kept their slim lead intact.

A penalty with two minutes remaining for an early tackle then gave the home side a great chance with a lineout starting 20 metres from the try line, but a collapsed maul yet again earned the Chiefs a crucial turnover.

Just needing to clear to touch to end the game, the Chiefs then managed to turn the ball over themselves to set up a frantic finish, which was finally ended when a Blues lineout was thrown not straight to end a pulsating match.

Gallagher Chiefs 27 (Taleni Seu, Sean Wainui, Sam Cane, Brad Weber tries; Damian McKenzie 2 cons, pen) Blues 21 (Augustine Pulu, Akira Ioane, Bryn Gatland tries; Gatland 3 cons) HT: 10-14.

The Gallagher Chiefs now get a chance to sort out some of their injury problems as they head into a bye week, before hosting the Bulls at FMG Stadium Waikato for their opening home game of the season on Friday 16 March.

The University of Waikato Chiefs Taua Development team has been named to take on the Blues Development team tomorrow at Shadbolt park in Auckland. 

Kick off is 2:45pm.

The Gallagher Chiefs kick off round three of the Investec Super Rugby competition with another exciting New Zealand derby against northern rivals the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland. Both teams have everything to play for and are looking to get their respective seasons underway with a win after hard-fought losses in their opening games last weekend.

Gallagher Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper has made four changes to the starting fifteen who competed against the Crusaders in Christchurch last Saturday. There are two changes in the forward pack, with Michael Allardice coming in to partner Brodie Retallick at lock and the ever experienced Liam Messam starting in the loose forwards with Sam Cane and Taleni Seu.

Sean Wainui makes his first start for the Gallagher Chiefs on the wing with the talented Shaun Stevenson moving to fullback.

The game kicks off at 7:35pm this Friday night at Eden Park. Following this round, the team will have a bye, followed by their first home game against the Bulls on Friday 16 March at FMG Stadium Waikato.

The Gallagher Chiefs team to play the Blues this Friday at 7:35pm is:

1. Aidan Ross
2. Nathan Harris
3. Nepo Laulala
4. Brodie Retallick
5. Michael Allardice
6. Liam Messam
7. Sam Cane
8. Taleni Seu
9. Brad Weber
10. Damian McKenzie
11. Solomon Alaimalo
12. Johnny Faauli
13. Anton Lienert-Brown
14. Sean Wainui
15. Shaun Stevenson


16. Liam Polwart
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe
18. Angus Ta’avao
19. Mitchell Brown*/Luke Jacobson
20. Lachlan Boshier
21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi
22. Tiaan Falcon
23. Bailyn Sullivan/Declan O’Donnell

*Pending fitness test

Unavailable for selection: Dominic Bird, Tim Nanai-Williams, Charlie Ngatai, Toni Pulu, Fin Hoeata, Alex Nankivell, Tyler Ardron, Regan Verney, Mitchell Graham, Sosefo Kautai, Sam McNicol, Atu Moli, Kane Hames, Marty McKenzie, Levi Aumua

We had an awesome day out in Waihi on Saturday for the University of Waikato Chiefs U20 match against the Blues. It was great to meet so many of our fans over there and have a good turn out at the game. Congratulations to our U20 team who beat the Blues 29-17 with tries to Kini Naholo, Xavier Roe, Quinn Tupaea & Brayton Northcott-Hill.


In their opening match of Investec Super Rugby for 2018, the Gallagher Chiefs have gone down to defending champions the Crusaders by 45 points to 23 at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.

A gutsy comeback from the Gallagher Chiefs had seen them recover from 16 points down to take the lead early in the second half, but a strong final quarter from the home side, which included three tries in the final 10 minutes, saw them kick on for a bonus point win.

Inside the opening minute the Chiefs showed their intent, launching a dangerous attack deep into Crusaders territory, with first five Damian McKenzie setting Anton Lienert-Brown into space and the centre burst clear before being pulled up just five metres short, which was followed by a Chiefs knock on from the next phase.

The Crusaders cleared and soon charged upfield themselves and, after several phases near the line, loose forward Matt Todd muscled his way over to score the opening try of the evening.

For the following five minutes the home side enjoyed more good field position and just as a relieving Gallagher Chiefs penalty had seen them work their way out of danger, a loose pass was pounced on by Crusaders first five Richie Mo'unga for a second try in the opening 12 minutes.

A good response from the Gallagher Chiefs saw them put pressure on the Crusaders defence, ending in a penalty which McKenzie chipped over from right in front to get the visitors on the board.

The Chiefs began to look dangerous the more time they spent with ball in hand, and a brilliant break from fullback Charlie Ngatai forced the scrambling Crusaders defence to commit a professional foul close to the line, and Mo'unga was shown the yellow card.

Once more the Crusaders defence proved tough to break down and they were able to turn the ball over, soon finding themselves down the other end of the field on the back of a couple of generous penalties.

Despite the one-man disadvantage, the Crusaders kept their hands on the ball and patiently worked towards the Chiefs line. The defence eventually cracked with an overlap out wide seeing Number 8 Jordan Taufua dot down. David Havili added the extras to extend the lead to 16 points.

Like they had throughout the first half, the Chiefs responded strongly to conceding points. McKenzie again sparked a long range attack as he put Sam Cane into a gap with the flanker holding off the defence from near halfway to score.

From the restart a high swinging arm from Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa saw another yellow card to give the Chiefs a boost as halftime approached.

This time they were able to capitalise as a long period on attack ending with McKenzie setting up another try, feeding wing Solomon Alaimalo who danced through the defensive line for a try right on the stroke of halftime.

McKenzie converted both tries and the gap was narrowed to just two points at the break.

The Chiefs took that momentum into the start of the second half as they enjoyed all of the early territory and possession but were unable to turn that dominance into more points.

With the Crusaders restored to 15 men the match began to open up, with the frantic pace of the second half making for some exciting rugby.

At the 55 minute mark, McKenzie landed a penalty to give his side the lead for the first time in the match, and at the same time several fresh legs were brought on off the bench with the visitors looking nicely set up for the final quarter.

But the defending champions began to show their class, not panicking after falling behind, and out of nowhere centre Jack Goodhue made a break in midfield which ended in lock Sam Whitelock crossing for their fourth try, converted by Mo'unga.

Soon after retaking the lead, the gap was closed to three after McKenzie struck a 48 metre penalty following some more scintillating counter attacking play.

With 10 minutes remaining, the Crusaders looked to put the game out of reach as they turned down two kickable penalties and opted for the lineout, with their second attempt ending in a dramatic moment which ultimately ended the contest - as Ryan Crotty went to squeeze over in the corner, Chiefs replacement Lachlan Boshier was yellowed carded for a high tackle and a penalty try was awarded.

Now needing to score twice, the Chiefs tried desperately to chase the game, and a wide McKenzie pass was latched onto by Crusaders wing George Bridge for an intercept try. Just minutes later this was followed by another intercept try to Manasa Mataele as Lienert-Brown this time threw a pass inside his own 22 which went to the wrong man.

The late flurry of points blew the scoreline out much further than the tight contest would suggest, but in the end the Chiefs leave Christchurch with nothing to show for their efforts and the Crusaders taking the full five points.

Gallagher Chiefs 23 (Sam Cane, Solomon Alaimalo tries; Damian McKenzie 2 cons, 3 pens) Crusaders 45 (Matt Todd, Richie Mo'unga, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock, George Bridge, Manasa Mataele tries, penalty try; Mo'unga 3 cons, Havili con) HT: 17-19.

The Gallagher Chiefs will stay on the road for their next match, heading to Eden Park in Auckland on Friday night for a local derby against the Blues.

Investec Super Rugby is back for 2018 in the best possible fashion with a fierce New Zealand derby in Christchurch against the Crusaders to kick off the Gallagher Chiefs 2018 season!

Head Coach Colin Cooper has selected a physical and experienced lineup to set the benchmark for the sides' 2018 campaign. The starting fifteen features five 2017 All Blacks in the forward pack alone, as well as the much-talked about combination of Brad Weber and Damian McKenzie in the number nine and ten jerseys.

“Everyone is talking about Damian, but it’s just about giving him time at ten. Brad is coming off injury, but played really well in the preseason and shows a lot of excitement if he can get into space”, said Colin Cooper.

The pack is looking strong and competitive with a tight five of Aidan Ross, Nathan Harris, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick and Dominic Bird. "Mitchell Brown had a very good game against the Brumbies [in last weeks' preseason match] and brings a lot of physicality. Sam Cane is an All Black with proven leadership, and a hard worker. Taleni Seu is new at number eight, but I like his skill, speed and power off the back of the scrum”.

The midfield combination of Johnny Faauli and Anton Lienert-Brown is strong, and the back three of Solomon Alaimalo, Shaun Stevenson, and Co-Captain Charlie Ngatai is particularly exciting for what they each bring to the field.

The Gallagher Chiefs and the Crusaders have had quite the opening round history, facing off against each other three times in the last decade in Christchurch. They played in 2009 (Crusaders won 19-13), 2014 (Chiefs won 18-10), 2016 (Chiefs won 27-21), and now this weekend, which is eagerly awaited throughout the country.

Colin Cooper cannot wait to get the campaign started, saying: “We know it has to happen - we have to play down in Christchurch this year, so playing the Crusaders first, we’re not daunted by it, we’re excited by it, going to Christchurch and their back yard”.

The Gallagher Chiefs team to face the Crusaders in Christchurch is:

1.            Aidan Ross

2.            Nathan Harris

3.            Nepo Laulala

4.            Brodie Retallick

5.            Dominic Bird

6.            Mitchell Brown

7.            Sam Cane - Captain

8.            Taleni Seu

9.            Brad Weber

10.          Damian McKenzie

11.          Solomon Alaimalo

12.          Johnny Faauli

13.          Anton Lienert-Brown

14.          Shaun Stevenson

15.          Charlie Ngatai - Captain


16.          Liam Polwart

17.          Atunaisa Moli

18.          Angus Ta’avao

19.          Liam Messam

20.          Lachlan Boshier

21.          Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi

22.          Marty McKenzie

23.          Sean Wainui

Experienced director Tonia Cawood has been announced as the new Chair of the Chiefs Rugby Club Board. Current Chair Dallas Fisher will step down from the role on 16 March.

Cawood is an independent chartered director involved in a wide variety of organisations in the sporting, manufacturing and aged care sectors. A current Chiefs board member, she brings a great breadth of expertise and governance knowledge to the role.

Starting off as a Sports Marketing Executive, Tonia went on to be Sponsorship Manager and then Marketing Manager at adidas New Zealand where she gained valuable knowledge in professional sports and sports marketing. She then started her own business advisory company, Pro-ject Management, which has faithfully served clients locally and nationally over the last sixteen years. She is a Director at several renowned organisations including Rowing NZ, Tidd Ross Todd Limited and Alandale Lifecare Limited.

Tonia spoke about leading the board to continue the immense contribution Dallas had put into the role.

“I look forward to the privilege of working with our quality Board, with the Chief Executive Michael Collins, Chiefs Rugby Club staff, and our many stakeholders to continue our strong progression on the field, within our community, and financially. Dallas has made a monumental contribution as Chairman for the past 15 years, and has navigated the Club through its most significant changes. His passion and commercial nous have built a robust commercial platform and we are grateful to have him remain on the Board as an Independent Director.”

Dallas has been involved with the Chiefs Rugby Club since its inception at the beginning of Super Rugby in 1996. He has been on the Board since 2003.

During this time, Dallas has directed the Chiefs Rugby Club with innovation and boldness. There are many impressive results of his leadership, including appointing Dave Rennie as Head Coach, under whose leadership the team went on to win back to back Investec Super Rugby titles; the historic win over international opponents Wales in 2016; being the first Club to take a home game offshore which saw Fiji as host for two consecutive years; and entering into a unique high performance partnership with the Kobelco Steelers in Japan.

Dallas was also involved in negotiating the seven year license granted in 2013 by New Zealand Rugby to run the organization with private investors, combining 50/50 with provincial unions.

Chair of NZ Rugby and past Chiefs board member Brett Impey, said that Dallas’ enthusiasm is infectious and has carried through to the whole Chiefs organisation.

“What impressed me on first meeting Dallas was his drive and energy and plus 100% commitment to the Chiefs”, said Impey.

“He led the transformation of the Chiefs by introducing a range of private investors along with the involvement of the provincial unions. Dallas has managed the transition from provincial union to a mixed ownership model extremely well and the introduction of Taranaki to the consortium has also added huge value to the Chiefs both on and off the field”.

We’re thankful that Dallas will remain on the Board and involved in special projects.