Chiefs will 'keep it fresh'
Chiefs will 'keep it fresh'SHARE
The Chiefs are working on changing their approach at the breakdown to avoid falling foul of 'suspicious' referees in Super Rugby next year.
The defending champions feel that they were under the microscope from match officials in this year's competition, and as a result they want to avoid being penalised too heavily as they look to make it three consecutive titles next year.
Assistant coach Andrew Strawbridge told Fairfax News NZ that they have sought clarity around exactly what they are allowed to do at ruck-time as they felt thay were harshly treated by referees this year.
"Some of the rules are pretty dodgy, very grey, about who you can deal with around the edges of rucks, so we forced the hand of the referees a little bit to explain to us who is involved and who isn't and what we can or cannot do..
"It's no secret we were looked at pretty closely last year, but it's an area we put a lot of emphasis on, and we have made a few shifts – which I'm not going to talk about – for this coming season. We've adjusted things slightly," he said.
Strawbridge suggested that his team were victims of their own success as 'suspicious' referees focused on their every move at the breakdown.
"The referees are a suspicious bunch and they think if you win, you are probably doing something underhanded or untoward, and they double-check everything you do and we came under the microscope because of that," he said.
However, the Chiefs assistant added that the challenge is to adapt to the interpretation of the referees as that is ultimately what matters most.
"It doesn't matter what we think, in the end if someone is giving penalties against you, you've got to adjust," he said.
Although he would not reveal specific details, Strawbridge said that the Waikato outfit have already made changes to the way that they train as they look to stay ahead of the curve.
"We spend a lot of time talking about that as coaches – the way we train, what we do at training, aspects of our game.
"We're not too sophisticated and I think if people sit down and spend any time analysing our game they can sort out that we're a same-way team so we're looking to change things up a little bit this year, absolutely.
"And you've got to keep it fresh – the players deserve that," he said.
He explained that the focus on pre-season has been on speed as it is crucial to win the various 'races' within a rugby match.
"We're just trying to keep ahead of the game and it's a stop-start, slow down-speed up race game and we're just trying to become more efficient at that.
"Everything's a race in rugby – trying to win the space in lineouts, trying to get the first hit in the scrum, trying to be the first cleaner before the opposition assist tackler gets there – so we just wanted to become efficient at that so that's an edge we think we can possibly get," he said.