It was an entertaining encounter in which the Chiefs felt they had every opportunity to win. They have had to mull over it this whole time and it will certainly fire them up for their Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa opener, where they are away to the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday.
Chiefs coaches have spoken over the last couple of weeks about how impressed they’ve been with the way their players have returned to training. They are in a great physical and mental state and they’ve been able to fast track their training to contact, because of the great condition the players are in.
Apart from that narrow loss to the Hurricanes at home and the slip up to the Brumbies, the Chiefs were chipping away nicely earlier in the season. They recorded brilliant wins over the Blues and Crusaders in their local derbies and were sitting in third place on the New Zealand conference ladder.
During the break, Chiefs skipper Sam Cane also became the new All Blacks captain and it will be exciting to see how he goes with that added responsibility, not that it will change the way the 28 year-old will play for his club. Always at 110% with his heart on his sleeve.
The Chiefs have chipped away under the radar as they’ve returned to training but expect the lads from the Waikato to unleash when ten weeks of brutal local derbies gets underway next week.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Lachlan Boshier. The 25 year-old flanker was a turnover machine before lockdown. In just five games, Boshier made 17 turnovers, the most in the competition. In amongst his thieving of the ball, he has also scored three tries and his tackle success rate was at 90%. Hopefully, the Taranaki backrower can pick up where he left off, not only for the Chiefs sake, but personally as he pushes for higher honors. Boshier has teamed up well with fellow loosies Sam Cane and Pita Gus Sowakula and as well as his impressive turnover stats, Boshier made 27 carries, 112 meters and three clean breaks.
While all the chatter this week has been about Dan Carter and Beauden Barrett, don’t forget about Damian McKenzie and Aaron Cruden. The introduction of the golden point system has us thinking instantly of the McKenzie-Cruden combo, who would both be capable of drop kicking their side to success in an extra-time scenario. How we would love a golden point shoot out between these two sides.
The Chiefs have had their fair share of injury woes over the years. Remember in 2018 when the Chiefs were down four starting locks? But Warren Gatland has confirmed he almost has a fully fit squad to choose from for their round one clash against the Highlanders. Prop Nepo Laulala is back fully training after recovering from a knee injury and flanker Luke Jacobson is good to go following ongoing concussion issues. It’s hoped Angus Ta’avao will be right for the second half of the competition as he recovers from a knee niggle. The Chiefs coaches will have their work cut out for them when it comes to selecting their loose forward trio. Boshier, Cane, Sowakula were all performing well earlier in the season and now with the addition of a fit Jacobson, there’s sure to be some selection headaches. We also can’t forget how exciting the Chiefs backline has been this season. McKenzie, Cruden, Brad Weber, Anton Lienert-Brown, Shaun Stevenson, Solomon Alaimalo, Tumua Manu and Sean Wainui all involved in some of the competition’s best tries. And they welcome back All Blacks Sevens playmaker Etene Nanai-Seturo who will be sure to add even more competition to the outside backs.
13 June: Chiefs v Highlanders, Forsyth Barr Stadium
20 June: Chiefs v Blues, FMG Stadium Waikato
28 June: Chiefs v Crusaders, Orangetheory Stadium
5 July: Chiefs v Hurricanes, FMG Stadium Waikato
19 July: Chiefs v Highlanders, FMG Stadium Waikato
26 July: Chiefs v Blues, Eden Park
1 August: Chiefs v Crusaders, FMG Stadium Waikato
8 August: Chiefs v Hurricanes, Sky Stadium Wellington
Nathan Harris, Bradley Slater, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Donald Maka, Ryan Coxon, Nepo Laulala, Atunaisa Moli, Reuben O’Neill, Aidan Ross, Angus Ta’avao, Ross Geldenhuys, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Tyler Ardron, Michael Allardice, Laghlan McWhannell, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Brown, Sam Cane, Pita Gus Sowakula, Luke Jacobson, Mitchell Karpik, Dylan Nel, Adam Thompson, Tupou Vaai, Simon Parker, Lisati Milo-Harris, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Brad Weber, Aaron Cruden, Tiaan Falcon, Damian McKenzie, Kaleb Trask, Orbyn Leger, Anton Lienert-Brown, Tumua Manu, Alex Nankivell, Bailyn Sullivan, Solomon Alaimalo, Sam McNicol, Kini Naholo, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Shaun Stevenson, Quinn Tupaea, Sean Wainui