Preview: Chiefs v Hurricanes

Jono Gibbes gets tough More Gibbes pics 1582057819
The loser will be 0-and-2 and in trouble.

VENUE & TIME: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, Friday February 9, 19.35 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 11 � Hurricanes 6, Chiefs 5.

LAST TIME: April 29, 2006 (Wellington) � Hurricanes 35-10 Chiefs.

WALKING WOUNDED: The Hurricanes suffered three injury problems last week: Conrad Smith misses at least this game due to bleeding in his eye, while props Tim Fairbrother (dislocated shoulder, which may threaten his career) and John Schwalger (head knock) both left the field at Brisbane. Schwalger has been bracketed with Tony Penn for this match; Fairbrother is a long-term casualty. The Chiefs also have more concerns than they would like, with Tasesa Lavea out for six weeks or so with knee trouble and Richard Kahui and Keith Robinson unable to overcome their recent injuries.

FORM: Neither team would have impressed its coaching staff last week and both lost winnable games. The Chiefs did not help themselves with poor goal-kicking and the Hurricanes lacked punch against a Reds outfit that played a grinding, ugly, smart style. Finishing left something to be desired and too many things went wrong for both sides. Both are better than that; they just need to start proving it or the season may soon be gone.

WHO'S HOT: Players to catch the eye for the Hurricanes were the back three of Cory Jane, Hosea Gear and David Smith; Smith wins a bench spot after a backline reshuffle that sees Ma'a Nonu sent to the wing following a so-so midfield outing at Brisbane. The Golden Oldies scrums for half the game meant there were too many forwards running around getting in the way and the overall forward effort was only ordinary. The Chiefs got good value from their tight five at scrum time but will want more precision in the lineout work. The backs threatened at times � Sosene Anesi looked sharp � but the ball often took too long to get wide.

WE THINK: Toss a coin. Whichever team makes fewer mistakes, takes its chances and has its mind on the job will get the points, but it couldn�t be harder trying to work out which one that will be. Since we're obliged to stick our necks out we�ll go for the Chiefs by a couple of points.


Chiefs: 1 � Craig West, 2 � Tom Willis, 3 � Nathan White, 4 � Toby Lynn, 5 � Jono Gibbes (Captain), 6 � Steven Bates, 7 � Marty Holah, 8 � Liam Messam, 9 � Brendon Leonard, 10 � Stephen Donald, 11 � Roy Kinikinilau, 12 � Tane Tu�ipulotu, 13 � Niva Ta�auso, 14 � Lelia Masaga, 15 � Sosene Anesi.

Reserves: 16 � Aled de Malmanche, 17 � Simms Davison, 18 � Kristian Ormsby, 19 � Tanerau Latimer, 20 � Jamie Nutbrown, 21 � Murray Williams, 22 � Dwayne Sweeney.

Hurricanes:1 � John Schwalger or Tony Penn, 2 � Tone Kopelani, 3 � Neemia Tialata, 4 � Paul Tito, 5 � Bernie Upton, 6 � Luke Andrews, 7 � Serge Lilo, 8 � Thomas Waldrom, 9 � Alby Mathewson, 10 � Jimmy Gopperth, 11 � Ma�a Nonu, 12 � Tamati Ellison, 13 � Tana Umaga (captain), 14 � Hosea Gear, 15 � Cory Jane.

Reserves: 16 � Mahonri Schwalger, 17 � Tony Penn or Anthony Perenise, 18 � Bradley Mika, 19 � Hayden Hopgood, 20 � Chris Smylie, 21 � David Smith, 22 � Shannon Paku.

REFEREE: Bryce Lawrence

Jono Gibbes gets tough More Gibbes pics 1582057819