Chiefs to 'stay off the grass' this week

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 21:43

SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: The Chiefs will have to break a two-decade long drought if they are to beat the Crusaders and advance to the Final.

Crossing the Indian Ocean, in any direction, makes winning a much tougher task.

Only about 35 percent of teams who travel from New Zealand to South Africa win in play-off matches.

Going in the other direction is so much tougher - with only about 13 percent of teams winning in the knock-out stages.

In fact the last team to have travelled from South Africa to New Zealand and won in the play-offs were the Crusaders - back in 1998.

But there is a rider. The Crusaders beat the Sharks in Durban in the final round of league action and both teams travelled to Christchurch for the semifinals.

The Chiefs, who beat the Stormers 17-11 in the quarterfinal stage at Newlands at the weekend, will only arrive back in New Zealand on Tuesday.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie knows the enormity of the challenge awaiting them.

"We played them in Fiji," he said of their Round 13 encounter with the Crusaders on May 19.

The last two encounters between the Chiefs and Hurricanes both took place in Suva - with the Chiefs winning 23-13 last year and the Crusaders reversing the result with a 31-24 victory this year.

"It was a really even battle," Rennie said, adding: "We made a couple of defensive errors and they were good enough to sting us on them.

"It was four tries to three to us. [We were] probably the only side that really stretched their defence [this year]."

Rennie said they are "rapped" to still be in the Super Rugby race, but preparation will be key this week.

"We will back ourselves to go down to Christchurch and do things right from a recovery point of view and give it a decent lick.

"We have learnt a couple of things from travelling back to Wellington last year [after the quarterfinal at Newlands] and we have a pretty good record against the Crusaders," he said - having beaten the Crusaders four times in their last five outings.

Rennie admitted they will have to make some adjustments to their training regime.

"We probably won't spend too much time on the grass," he said, adding: "[We will work to] get the bodies right, get the heads right.

"We will go there with a plan and hopefully do a bit better than we did against the Stormers."

Chiefs captain Sam Cane also spoke of the importance of the mental build-up this week.

"It was a pretty brutal encounter [with the Stormers]," the All Black flank said.

"It is about turning up next Saturday with a full tank and be ready to empty that.

"We will judge it on how quickly we recover.

"As players we have full trust in the coaching staff to make a good call."

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

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