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More injuries frustrate Chiefs

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Tuesday, May 7, 2019    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Already down on experienced All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick and flanker Sam Cane they will be without lock Michael Allardice, who has a knee injury, and flanker Lachlan Boshier with a back issue. 

Loose forward Taleni Seu is also doubtful for the weekend. Laghlan McWhannell is also out as an option following an injury in club rugby. However, it is expected flanker Mitchell Karpik will be fit for consideration.

While Tyler Ardron was capable of moving from No.8 to lock, they have bolstered their stocks by bringing in Bay of Plenty lock Aaron Carroll and Counties Manukau's Damon Leasuasu, who were their development locks.

The Sharks were riding high after a win over the Waratahs and a draw with the Crusaders on their Australasian tour and had been causing problems for opponents with their scrum and lineout maul.

Chiefs coach Colin Cooper said, "We know they're going to have a big scrum and they've got a really good driving lineout also. We just have to make sure we stop their lineout drive and our scrum is not so bad either. Our scrum is getting better and better, we just have to make sure that we're looking after our ball.

"They will bring a lot of physicality and there haven't been a lot of line breaks against them so we have to nail our scrum. Our scrum is really important for our attack and [I'm] pretty confident that we will do that.
"But they are such a strong defensive team, they showed that against the Crusaders and we have a lot of respect for how they're playing and we've just got to make sure we nail our game," he said.

While injuries have been a continuing frustration for the side, they had remained competitive.

Cooper said, "We've had a tough season but we were pretty proud of the way we hung in there down in Dunedin.

"This group is strong and well led by the leaders. I don't think most teams would like to play the Chiefs, even though we're pretty banged up at the moment. Again, they showed what they can do last weekend," he said.

Cooper said it was a continuing theme for the side but they needed to build phases, they were probably the top off-loading team in the competition but it was a case of having the discipline when to off-load and when to build pressure.

It was a fact the side were guilty of looking for miracle or 50-50 passes, he said. But it was all a balance of how hard the coaching staff went on individuals and how hard they went on certain parts of the game.