Super Rugby
Nanai-Williams to start at centre for Chiefs
February 20, 2013
Tim Nanai-Williams of the Chiefs fends off James Broadhurst of the Hurricanes, Chiefs v Hurricanes, Super Rugby warm-up match, Mangatainoka, New Zealand, February 16, 2013
Tim Nanai-Williams fends off James Broadhurst of the Hurricanes during last weekend's trial match. © Getty Images

Tim Nanai-Williams will step into the centre's role for the Chiefs in the first game of their Super Rugby title defence against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday. Nanai-Williams, more familiar in the role of fullback or wing, performed well in last week's trial against the Hurricanes after Richard Kahui was still not available for selection.

Inside him will be Bundee Aki who has recovered from an injury concern to make his Super Rugby debut. Joining him on debut will be wing Patrick Osborne and hooker Rhys Marshall. Also making his first appearance for the side will be discarded Blues first five-eighths Gareth Anscombe who will play at fullback.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is glad to be starting the competition after a strong pre-season, and has an optimistic for the reigning champions as they welcome new blood and adapt to life without Sonny Bill Williams.

"It's good to finally start the competition," Rennie said. "I know the boys have been training hard and are looking forward to getting stuck into it, especially our new caps."

Still not ready to be considered were five-eighths Andrew Horrell, fullback Robbie Robinson and halfback Brendon Leonard.

The Chiefs: 1.Pauliasi Manu, 2.Hika Elliott. 3.Ben Afeaki, 4.Craig Clarke, 5.Brodie Retallick, 6.Liam Messam, 7.Sam Cane, 8.Fritz Lee, 9.Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 10.Aaron Cruden, 11.Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 12.Bundee Aki, 13.Tim Nanai-Williams, 14.Patrick Osborne, 15.Gareth Anscombe. Reserves: 16.Rhys Marshall, 17.Ben Tameifuna, 18.Michael Fitzgerald, 19.Tanerau Latimer, 20.Augustine Pulu, 21.Charlie Ngatai, 22.Lelia Masaga.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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