Chiefs reset for Australian leg

GettyImages 1391716047

Although confined to a substitute's role, that didn't prevent Weber from suffering a stinger injury to his shoulder. It affected the nerves in his neck, and coach Clayton McMillan was hopeful he would not join All Blacks Brodie Retallick, Anton Lienert-Brown and Josh Ioane on the longer-term injury list.

Another who may miss the Australian leg is wing Shaun Stevenson who left the field with a knee injury.

McMillan said the attention put on the breakdown had been because it had been the Chiefs' Achilles heel for the previous two or three weeks, and each week they encountered something a little different.

"That's just around us being brutal, and efficient, in that area and understand that it is a trend in the game now that teams are competing in that space," he said.

Moving away from over-use of the lineout maul, close to the goal-line, was down to the fact that Moana Pasifika defended it so well. But it was also because the Chiefs didn't want to be a one-trick pony.

"You have to have a few more tools up your sleeve and we're trying to grow our overall game," he said.

There had been positives, especially with the number of younger players introduced, and he was happy to take the ugly win, get a bonus point, and reset for the Australian leg of the series.

He said the Crusaders and Blues demonstrated in their game that they were a couple of steps above the other New Zealand teams at the moment.

"We feel like we can get there. We've demonstrated that we can match it with those guys, but we've lost a little bit of flow in our game. Part of that's been around Covid. Part of that's been around injuries, and struggling to get the same team out on the park," he said.

"We have got another couple of gears left in us, so going to Australia gives us an opportunity to reset the dial," he said.

Their goal would be to have two wins on the road in Australia before returning to host the Brumbies.

"If you under-estimate the Australians you do that at your peril. They play a different style of rugby, the officiating is a little different as well, so it's about adapting quickly and respecting each opposition you come up against," he said.

Moana Pasifika coach Aaron Mauger could breathe a sigh of relief at the end of the most brutal campaign of the New Zealand teams, forced to play two weeks of catch-up games resulting from games lost to Covid-19 early in the competition.

"We're through it now, we've got guys with more experience at that level, and we're going to be better for it," he said.

The side had been keen to absorb the lessons of the 12-53 loss to the Hurricanes in midweek that they trained harder than was wanted on Thursday, but he said the players had fronted up, and there had been no complaints.