With thousands of miles of travel still in their system, the Chiefs win against the Force wasn’t just a result to be proud of, it was awe-inspiring and worthy of a team destined for great things.
Winning by a margin of 53-10 is a result that any team would be delighted with.
Charlie Ngatai has firmly put his hand up and signalled to All Black coach Steve Hansen that he is ready to fill the much-talked about midfield vacancy. The New Zealand Maori captain wasn’t aware that his four-try outing against the Force equalled a Super Rugby record, and he didn’t seem to care either.
Ngatai’s performance was the highlight of the night, but just as impressive was how the Chiefs, as a unit, backed up thousands of kilometres of travel during the trip to South Africa and Argentina.
The Chiefs defense held out 14 phases of attack in the opening minutes by the Force before quickly turning possession into points with a counter-attack from deep in their own half.
The level of fitness, with just light training over the period of two days after arriving back in New Zealand, has to be respected.
Dave Rennie said post-match that his side hadn’t once discussed the subject of travel. Each player was left to their own devices to make sure their body was fit for the clash against the Force that took place just three days after arriving back in New Zealand. Next to All Black coach Steve Hansen, it could be argued that Rennie is the best in the business at getting the best out of his players. The difference is, Rennie is doing this with an ever-rotating arrival of young players, many of which didn’t play professionally before.
James Lowe said that the task of backing up after so much travel is down to what happens in the mind over the physical preparation. For the happy-go-lucky winger, this approach clearly worked, as Lowe scored one of the eight tries on the night and enjoyed a lot of possession. Looking ahead to another flight, this time to Canberra where the Chiefs will play the Brumbies, Lowe said that Chiefs fans can, and should, expect nothing less than the best preparation, because the hard yards have been done already.
The Brumbies themselves are fresh off a tour to South Africa themselves, and currently sit second on the Super Rugby ladder, presenting the Chiefs with their biggest challenge so far this season.
Injured lock Dominic Bird is possible for a return off the bench, and it has been confirmed that Anton Leinert-Brown has recovered from a knee injection and will be available for selection.
The Chiefs currently sit atop the Super Rugby table.