1 Jul 2016

Chiefs look to Elliot for inspiration

7:45 am on 1 July 2016

Two milestones will be achieved when Hikawera Elliot takes to the field for the Chiefs' top-of-the-table clash with the Crusaders tonight.

The match will mark Fiji's first Super Rugby game, and Elliot's hundredth - and the Waikato side is determined to celebrate the veteran hooker's milestone in style.

The Chiefs' assistant coach, Neil Barnes, said Friday was a big day for Elliot, and the team was looking to help him celebrate in style.

"He's 100 percent Chief - you can't play that many games for anyone and not be heavily involved in the emotional side of the team", Barnes said.

"He's a good man to have around and a good motivator in the team too, so hopefully we can do him proud come Friday night."

Hika Elliot celebrates the Chiefs' second Super Rugby title

Hika Elliot will play his 100th Super Rugby game for the Chiefs tonight. Photo: Photosport

The Chiefs have named a strong starting XV for Friday's match, with All Blacks Brodie Retallick and Sam Cane immediately returning to the fold after five weeks with the All Blacks.

But star first-five Aaron Cruden will have to be content with a spot on the bench, with 32 year-old veteran Stephen Donald preferred in the number 10 jersey.

Barnes said Donald acquitted himself well in the side's 40-7 win over Wales, and had taken on a leadership role in team practice.

"Stephen's right across it. He's been driving it at training the whole time, so going on his form in the Welsh game - which we thought was pretty good - we thought we'd give him the opportunity to go out there and run the game for us."

Barnes also confirmed Cruden would play a part coming off the bench.

The decision to start Retallick and Cane has caused some consternation, with both players featuring heavily in all three of the All Blacks' victories over Wales.

But Barnes said the duo possessed quality that was difficult to replace - particularly given the injuries to their nominal replacements, Michael Leitch and Michael Allardice.

"At the end of the day if I had other options out there that I could use I probably would be (using them)", he said.

"But I've still got a lot of trust in the fellas behind them. We'll just see how the game rolls along, and play it by ear."

The match will kick off at 7.35pm (NZ time).