Weary Chiefs to enjoy rest
Auckland - A week off could not have come
at a better time for Super Rugby's table-toppers, with the Chiefs players
exhausted after seven weeks of exertion, coach Dave Rennie said.
The Chiefs consolidated their position at
the top of the standings on 29 points after week seven with a hard-fought 29-23
victory over the Blues on Friday.
It was the fifth successive victory for the
twice champions, who had played matches in South Africa, Argentina, New Zealand
and Australia in the preceding four weeks.
"The boys are pretty buggered,"
Rennie told reporters in Hamilton on Monday.
"It's been a long seven week campaign
for us, but I think the Blues did ...well," added Rennie. "They
caught us short a lot and there was a fair bit of desperation.
"It wasn't as sparkly as it has been
but it was really gritty and we got into a bit of an arm wrestle late on - and
we did a lot of things really well."
The Chiefs have been the most attacking
side in Super Rugby this season, scoring 39 tries in their seven games. The
next best team, the Crusaders, have scored 25 in six.
In their five-game unbeaten run, Rennie's
team have scored more than 50 points twice and are averaging 43.6 points per
The play of fullback Damian McKenzie has
captured the most headlines for the Chiefs, with the 20-year-old the leading
individual try scorer with seven.
Flyhalf Aaron Cruden, who missed most of
last season with a knee injury, is also firming as the favourite for the All
Blacks number 10 jersey in June, while inside centre Charlie Ngatai has
impressed with his performances as a replacement for Ma'a Nonu, who moved to
France after the World Cup.
The Chiefs have embarked on their
successful run while managing a heavy injury toll, with Rennie without several
starting players, including lock Brodie Retallick who only returned against the
Blues following a month out with broken ribs.
Cruden added his side had been 'beaten up'
by the Blues and they would look forward to this week without a game to refresh
before their clash with the Hurricanes in Wellington on April 23.
"The bye's come at a good time for
us," Cruden said. "We can take the bye week, get away for a few days
and recharge mentally and physically."