Rennie: Clarke a 'bloody good' man
Rennie: Clarke a 'bloody good' manSHARE
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie heaped praise on departing captain Craig Clarke , after he led them to a second successive Super Rugby title.
The Chiefs came from behind to beat the Brumbies 27-22 in the Final in Hamilton on Saturday, to reinforce their standing as a Southern Hemisphere powerhouse.
It was the Chiefs' second Super Rugby crown in as many years, with a 15-point closing burst after trailing 12-22 with 17 minutes to go.
Before a packed crowd of 25,000 at Waikato Stadium, the Chiefs outscored the Brumbies two tries to one.
It also brought to and end the Chiefs careers of five players.
Co-captain Clarke (off to Ireland), prop Toby Smith (Melbourne Rebels) and wing Lelia Masaga (Japan) featured in Saturday's victory.
Injured centre Richard Kahui (Japan) and another All Black, scrumhalf Brendon Leonard (Italy), had already played their last game after lengthy stints at Waikato and the Chiefs.
"I'll miss him heaps," the coach, Rennie, said in his post-match analysis.
"It is not just his ability on the field, obviously also his leadership and he is a bloody good man.
"It is a pity he is leaving, obviously, he is certainly good enough to wear a black [All Black] jersey.
"We are disappointed to see him go, but at the same time we are happy for him.
"It is time for a new challenge – he can travel and maybe have a baby with a UK passport, that may come in handy at some stage."
The Chiefs coach, Rennie, also praised his side's courage for the way they fought back when the Brumbies had command.
"It was a messy first half," he said.
"They were able to get in and slow a lot of our ball and steal ball and we got sucked into trying to push too many passes.
"So there was real character shown in that second half. We got great impact off the bench," he said.
Rennie said the Brumbies were pretty smart and used a clever tactical ploy of not committing to the rucks.
"They swing around [the edges of rucks] and what looked offside was fair enough [legal play]," the Chiefs coach said.
"It took us a while to work out a strategy to sort that out," he said, adding: "We did better in the second half.
"The key was, we needed to hang on to a bit of the pill for a while, apply a bit of pressure.
"In the first half we kept moving the ball to where they had numbers. There was quite a bit of space just in behind the wings, well in front of the fullback."
He admitted the Christian Lealiifano try just before the half-time break was almost inevitable, given the tactics employed by the Brumbies.
"The [Lealiifano] intercept, we were talking about it in the coaches box and we felt it was always going to come.
"We put ourselves under a lot of pressure there.
"Once we started sending bigger numbers to the rucks, we were able to get rid of their guys that were sneaking around the side.
"[It allowed us] to play with a bit of tempo and that made a difference in the last 20 [minutes]."
He also spoke about the character of the team and the back-to-back titles.
"They [the players] worked pretty hard and there's a lot of personal drive within this group.
"There's a lot of personal meaning within the community – they're a special group, they are certainly highly motivated."