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Injury-ravaged Chiefs get boost

Published: 5:29PM Wednesday May 08, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

The Chiefs have been boosted by the return of All Black halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow and prop Ben Afeaki for their Super Rugby clash against the Western Force in Pukekohe at ECOLight Stadium this Friday night.

Afeaki, who is set to be named in the All Blacks training squad next week, makes his long awaited return from injury and is joined in the front row by Hika Elliot and Toby Smith.

Halfback Kerr-Barlow also gets his first start since breaking his jaw and will team up with Gareth Anscombe at first five-eight.

Patrick Osborne will start on the wing while two players who have started every game this year, Aaron Cruden, who is stuggling with an ankle injury, and Asaeli Tikoirotuma move to the bench.

Due to a substantial growing number of injuries in the midfield including Kahui, Horrell, Nanai-Williams and Charlie Ngatai who has not recovered in time with a hamstring injury, Save Tokula will start in the No 13 jersey in his sixth game for the Chiefs.

"We are in the third mini leg of our season which is hugely important. We are well aware of the strength of this Force team. They have beaten the Reds and Crusaders and went close to the Hurricanes, which proves they can travel, so we need to be at our best," said coach Dave Rennie.

Chiefs: Robbie Robinson, Lelia Masaga, Save Tokula, Bundee Aki, Patrick Osborne, Gareth Anscombe, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Matt Vant Leven, Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (c), Ben Afeaki, Hika Elliot, Toby Smith.

Reserves: Mahonri Schwalger, Ben Tameifuna, Michael Fitzgerald, Tanerau Latimer, Augustine Pulu, Aaron Cruden, Asaeli Tikoirotuma.