McKenzie restored to Chiefs side

22 February 2019 07:27:41 EST

The Chiefs have star playmaker Damian McKenzie returning from injury for Saturday's trip to the Brumbies.

The 23-year-old missed last week's round one loss to the Highlanders in Hamilton with an ankle niggle. That will count as one of the two Super Rugby rounds McKenzie, along with the other All Blacks, have to sit out during the season.

It's the Hamilton franchise's juggling with their need to rest their international players that has seen prop Angus Ta'avao - who played his first three Tests last year - omitted for the Canberra clash.

McKenzie has been named as the starting first five-eighth, replacing Orbyn Leger, who goes to the bench to also cover the midfield.

"Obviously Damian's a huge plus for us being on the paddock," said assistant coach Neil Barnes. "But we were all really excited about how Orbyn played last week too, he was our player of the day, did a great job. It's just unfortunate for Orbyn that Damian's a class player so gets the nod in front of him."

Stephen Donald has dropped out of the matchday 23 while Nepo Laulala will start and Sefo Kautai comes onto the bench.

Two further changes to the starting side which lost 30-27 to the Highlanders see Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and Bailyn Sullivan given the nod.

Tahuriorangi comes in as halfback Brad Weber is still recovering from the concussion he sustained in the opening round, while Sullivan replaces Jonathan Taumateine, who comes into the reserves, where Jesse Parete makes way for Mitchell Karpik.

The game against the Brumbies, who lost their opening match 34-27 at home to the Rebels, will be Brodie Retallick's 100th for the Chiefs.

The Chiefs are 7/20 to beat the Brumbies, who are 9/4 to come out on top.

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