Cruden to reach milestone in heavyweight clash

Aaron Cruden of the Chiefs looks to take on the defence.
Aaron Cruden of the Chiefs looks to take on the defence. ROSS SETFORD

RUGBY UNION: Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made three changes to his starting side for tonight's derby at Waikato Stadium.

With Sam Cane still sidelined, Lachlan Boshier replaces Mitch Karpik at openside flanker while Japan international Michael Leitch starts at No.8 and Liam Messam switches to blindside.

In the backs, Tim Nanai-Williams gets the nod on the right wing, replacing Toni Pulu, who drops to the bench.

Captain Aaron Cruden will play his 100th game.

Meanwhile, Blues coach Tana Umaga has named an unchanged starting line-up.

Umaga has, however, had the luxury of calling up All Blacks stars Jerome Kaino and Patrick Tuipulotu to add to an already powerful bench.

Flanker Kaino missed the opening round in part because he was mourning the death of close friend Sione Lauaki, while lock Tuipulotu is back on deck after being cleared of a doping irregularity.

The Blues bench includes six All Blacks, a Maori All Black and a New Zealand under-20s player.

Lock Jimmy Tupou will again lead the Blues, who are still missing injured players Alex Hodgman, Sam Nock, Declan O'Donnell, Stephen Perofeta and Sonny Bill Williams.

Both the Blues and the Chiefs posted impressive first-round wins, over the Rebels and Highlanders respectively.

Topics:  auckland blues super rugby

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