Chiefs relish underdog tag
Sydney - The Chiefs should have virtually a full squad to choose from for
Saturday's Super Rugby home semi-final against the Crusaders and
are quietly relishing their underdog status.
According to the stuff.co.nz website
, the Chiefs' forwards all took varying parts in training yesterday,
but it is more a reflection of the time of year than a continuing injury
While flanker Sam Cane was a spectator for much of the session as he
rested a neck problem, tight forwards Hika Elliott, Brodie Retallick,
Ben Tameifuna and Ben Afeaki one by one came to the sideline to ice
various ongoing ailments towards the end and afterwards Tanerau Latimer
was also icing the calf that copped a boot against the Blues 11 days
But while on the training paddock they were all running relatively
freely, including Retallick who until last Friday had his left foot
encased in a moonboot after an ankle sprain suffered against the Blues
and Afeaki who missed the last couple of matches with a back problem.
"We've got a few niggles but that's common for this time of year," Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie said.
"Tim [Nanai-Williams] is a no-go and obviously Richard [Kahui] is
out but other than that we'll be pretty close to picking from the rest."
So how do the reigning Super Rugby champions feel about going into a
home semi-final as underdogs, the TAB on Tuesday listing them at $2.45
to the Crusaders' $1.50 in head-to-head betting?
"I think most of the country is writing us off, which is not a bad
thing, but we're happy with where we're heading and we've got a pretty
happy bunch who are keen to make amends from the last time we played
"Obviously we're playing the Crusaders again, they'll come in as
favourites but we get to play them at home in front of a big crowd with
all our family and friends there and that sort of thing," Rennie said.
While the Chiefs have certainly talked about their disappointing
effort against the Crusaders in Christchurch nearly three weeks ago,
Rennie said they had not dwelled on it.
"We know we were caught short, especially from an intensity point of
view, so we can change that quickly because we can control that.
"We've certainly talked about what's going to be required. We've
been here before, we've played the Crusaders quite a bit over the last
couple of years and so we know what to expect and we've got to make sure
The Chiefs know the Crusaders have struck a rich vein of form lately
that is better than anything they have previously come up with in the
last two seasons, but they have their own plans to put pressure back on
That will require a jump in intensity but they believe they have
already produced that once this season against the Crusaders in Hamilton
back in May.
"We played a lot without the ball and had to defend on our line for a
long time but we were pretty clinical that night and when we got in the
right ends of the field we scored quickly so that's going to be
important again and you have to do it for 80 minutes against that sort
Rennie and his coaching team rang the combination changes on the
training field at Ruakura yesterday as they kept their players as much
as the media and other observers guessing, but he said they had a clear
picture of the team they wanted to field while needing to keep all
players involved and pushing each other because they never knew when
someone might need to be called up.
"We're pretty clear, to be honest, and a lot of things we saw at training today reinforced that thinking.
"We've had a good session today. We're a little bit ahead of where
we would have been in a normal week [after having last weekend off], so
this is more typical of a Thursday run and we get another crack at it on