Chiefs to go Puma hunting

Sun, 30 Dec 2012 10:32
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The Chiefs are set to play the Pumas in a one-off fixture in Buenos Aires during their mid-season Super Rugby break.

The Chiefs are set to play the Pumas in a one-off fixture in Buenos Aires during their mid-season Super Rugby break.

Details of the deal are still being finalised but the match has been scheduled for the weekend of Round 16 of Super Rugby, when the defending champions have a bye.

With the bye falling a week prior to the three-week Test window, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie aims to combat the possibility of his squad being devoid of match practice for a month ahead of the lead in to the play-offs.

"The bye was a chance to go to Argentina and give the Pumas a bit of a hit-out and the chance for our boys to play an international side," Rennie told the Star-Times.

"In the old days you'd have teams touring the country playing provincial sides. That's a rare thing nowadays.”

The Chiefs’ top stars will feature in the All Blacks’ three-Test series against France and will therefore miss the 10-day excursion, but the touring party will reportedly be over 30 people.   

"We'll take most of the main squad, barring a few broken guys and the All Blacks, and maybe a couple of extra guys from our development squad. It's a bit of a carrot for those guys,” he said.

Rennie was frank about the Hamilton-based franchise’s financial situation when asked about the funding for the trip and revealed that the Argentinian Rugby Union, with the assistance of sponsors, have put up an initial sum to secure the match.

In turn, Rennie and the rest of his coaching staff, Wayne Smith and Tom Coventry, will provide coaching clinics and players will visit underprivileged communities to give back to Argentine rugby.

"There's no money in our bank, so we need the support of the Argentinian Rugby Union to make it happen, They're keen on the fixture. We're still sorting out the logistics from a financial point of view,” Rennie said.

“Obviously there's sponsors involved. There's potential to make a bit of money on the gate. We're pretty confident it will generate enough money so it won't cost the Argentinian Rugby Union. That's the plan."

The bulk of Argentina’s leading players will not be involved in the fixture as they are based in Europe.

Rennie added that a second fixture, against a combined Counties Manukau and Bay of Plenty team, is being lined up for the June Test window.

"We're still keen to have one more hit-out in that three-week window to make sure we're ready to go," said Rennie.