Chiefs stalwarts return home
NEWS: With over 200 combined Chiefs caps Liam Messam and Tim Nanai-Williams have both return from Japan to join the Chiefs for the 2017 Super Rugby season.
The loose forward and utility back are huge coups for the Chiefs, having both played significant roles in the franchise’s success as part of the 2012 and 2013 squads that won back-to-back Super Rugby Championships.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said "Liam [Messam] is a passionate and inspirational Chiefs man who has been a massive contributor to the success of this franchise. It’s great to have him back,"
Veteran loose forward Liam Messam made his debut for the Chiefs in 2006 and has gone on to become the most capped Chiefs player of all time with 146 caps. He has signed with the Chiefs for two years.
A strong leader, Messam co-captained the Chiefs from 2012 to 2015 and notched up 46 Test caps for the All Blacks. He also represented the Maori All Blacks, winning the prestigious Tom French Memorial Trophy for Maori Player of the Year in 2013. Messam returns to the Chiefs after a stint with the All Blacks Sevens team, and two seasons with the Brave Lupus in Tokyo, Japan.
Liam Messam said he was immensely excited to don the Chiefs jersey again.
"I’m really looking forward to returning home after a year of new challenges and developing my skills. The 2017 season is really exciting with a once in a lifetime chance to play against the British and Irish Lions when they tour NZ in June. The Chiefs is my home and the support I get from our supporters really means a lot to me when I play,"
Nanai-Williams will be back at the Chiefs after two seasons with the Ricoh Black Rams in Japan and valuable international experience with Samoa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Nanai-Williams has also represented both New Zealand and Samoa on the World Sevens circuit. With 77 Chiefs caps to his name and vital title-winning experience, the 27-year old adds depth to an exciting Chiefs backline.
Nanai-Williams was looking forward to immersing himself in the Chiefs environment again.
"It has been great to experience a different culture and team environment in Japan but I can’t wait to work again with Dave [Rennie] and the coaching team and be part of a great bunch of players at the Chiefs," said Nanai-Williams.
Rennie was looking forward to welcoming Tim back and said "[Nanai-Williams'] a top man who brings experience and leadership. His speed and outstanding skill set give him the flexibility to play anywhere in the backline, a huge asset in such a demanding campaign,"
The 2017 Chiefs Squad will be announced Wednesday, November 2, with players assembling at the training base on December 1.