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Thu Apr 24 10:34:14 SAST 2014

Clarke to lead unchanged Chiefs in final

TEAMtalk Media | 02 August, 2012 14:040 Comments
Super Rugby Semi Final - Chiefs v Crusaders
Brodie Retallick of the Chiefs (centre) celebrates victory with teammate Robbie Robinson (R) and Craig Clarke (L) during the Super Rugby semifinal between the Chiefs and Crusaders at Waikato Stadium on July 27, 2012 in Hamilton, New Zealand
Image by: Simon Watts / Getty Images

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie will have the luxury of fielding an unchanged starting line-up for Saturday's Super Rugby final against the Sharks in Hamilton.

Lock and co-captain Craig Clarke, who was in doubt after injuring his knee in last week's semi-final win over the Crusaders, has been declared fit and will partner Brodie Retallick in the second row.

Clarke passed a fitness test on Thursday but didn't take part in a physical training session for precautionary reasons.

Rennie said keeping the same starting side created minimal disruption in a week where he wanted the players' minds uncluttered.

"It's ideal. The boys performed out of their skins last week so it's nice to reward them with another start," Rennie told NZ Newswire.

"We've gone with the same spark plugs (reserve bench) too so it gives us a bit of continuity."

It was only as the week had unfolded that Rennie had appreciated the importance of the final being Hamilton rather than South Africa.

"From the start, this is where we wanted to be. To get a home final is fantastic," said Rennie.

"It means we can prepare with our full squad and play in front of our families and supporters."

After signing off on their last significant training run of the season, Rennie pronounced himself happy with their preparations.

"The boys are in a good frame of mind and have got their bodies right," he said.

"We had a pretty torrid session this afternoon so it's just a matter now of putting that on the park."

Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Sona Taumalolo.

Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Lelia Masaga.

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