The Chiefs will start their campaign this weekend at home against the Highlanders and Bryn Gatland will start at 10 for the home side.
Their are four debutants this weekend for the Chiefs in former Blues Sione Mafileo who will start at tighthead, Samipeni Finau, Jonah Lowe and Xavier Roe.
The Chiefs have some injury concern going into this match with Kaleb Trask out with a knee injury. All Black star McKenzie will start this one at fullback.
All Black captain Sam Cane will lead the Chiefs again.
The Highlanders are most properly still kicking themselves not taking their opportunities last week against the Crusaders but this week has it’s new challenges against the Chiefs.
Coach Tony Brown has kept the changes minimum for this week which his starting pack staying the same as against the Saders.
He did however make two changes in the back with Ioane staring at ten and Hunt moving to fifteen.
All Black Aaron Smith is on the bench this week giving Fakatava a chance o start the match with Ioane.
There is also some changes to the bench with Selby-Rickit replacing Evans and Alaimalo also on the bench this week.
The Chiefs had a terrible time last year in the competition and winning the first one of the season will go a long way in putting last season behind them.
With the Highlanders coming to town it will not be easy specially because they loss last week against the champions, but at home the Chiefs should be able to take this one.
Prediction: Chiefs by 7
Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Jonah Lowe, Sean Wainui, Anton Lienert-Brown, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Bryn Gatland, Brad Weber (cc); Luke Jacobson, Sam Cane (cc), Samipeni Finau, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Tupou Vaa’i, Sione Mafileo, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Reuben O’Neill. Reserves: Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris, Angus Ta’avao, Mitchell Brown, Mitchell Karpik, Xavier Roe, Alex Nankivell, Shaun Stevenson.
Highlanders: Mitchell Hunt, Connor Garden-Bachop, Ngantungane Punivai, Sio Tomkinson, Jona Nareki, Josh Ioane, Folau Fakatava; Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Billy Harmon, Shannon Frizell, Jack Regan, Josh Dickson, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon (cc), Daniel Lienert-Brown. Reserves: Liam Coltman, Josh Hohneck, Jeff Thwaites, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Liam Squire, Aaron Smith (cc), Solomon Alaimalo, Hugh Renton.