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Chiefs v Highlanders: Teams
At Waikato Stadium, Saturday February 25, kick-off 6.35am
The Chiefs have named their strongest possible line-up for the season opener against the Highlanders in Hamilton.
Coach Dave Rennie has included new signings Robbie Robinson, Sonny Bill Williams and Aaron Cruden in a star-studded back division.
In the pack, hooker Hika Elliot has been passed fit to start so another off-season recruit Mahonri Schwalger has to be content with a place on the bench.
England flanker James Haskell kicks off his Super Rugby career on the bench after arriving in New Zealand from Japan.
Haskell is one of seven new faces in the Highlanders squad, with Andrew Hore, Hosea Gear, Tamati Ellison and Buxton Popoali'i startying and Culum Retallick and Kurt Baker named on the bench.
Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Tim Nanai-Williams, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (capt), 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Arizona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Tawera Kerr- Barlow, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Asaeli Tikoirotuma.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Buxton Popoali'i, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 John Hardie, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Nick Crosswell, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Replacements: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Culum Retallick, 19 James Haskell, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Lima Sopoaga, 22 Kurt Baker.
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