The defending champion Chiefs will be minus four of their big stars when they start their 2013 campaign against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie was forced to call for reinforcements to his ailing stocks, after centre Richard Kahui (shoulder), scrumhalf Brendon Leonard (cheek bone), fullback Robbie Robinson (broken leg) and Andrew Horrell (fractured foot) were all confirmed non-starters at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Tim Nanai-Williams will take the field at outside centre after a solid performance in last week's pre-season win over the Hurricanes.
Counties midfielder Bundee Aki has been named at inside centre and will make his Super Rugby debut, along with wing Patrick Osborne and hooker Rhys Marshall.
Hawke's Bay's Marshall, who has yet to play in the NPC, has been named in the reserves.
Former Blues flyhalf Gareth Anscombe will play at fullback.
Chiefs’ coach Dave Rennie said it's good to finally start the competition, despite the absence of so many big names.
"I know the boys have been training hard and are looking forward to getting stuck into it, especially our new caps," Rennie said.
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Patrick Osborne, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Lelia Masaga.
Date: Friday, February 22
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.30 GMT)
Referee: Steve Walsh
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser, Kane McBride
TMO: Vinny Munro
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