Super Rugby begins this weekend, and the Chiefs have drawn arguably their toughest opponent for the opener.
The Chiefs haven’t got the best history against the Highlanders in recent years; the last win coming in 2014. Since then, the Highlanders have won all games against the Chiefs; granted some of them were fairly tight affairs. In 2015, the Chiefs were kicked out of the Super Rugby finals at the hands of the Highlanders; and that was one of three losses that season to the men from the deep south.
“They have an outstanding kick and chase game so they will put you under a lot of pressure”, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said about the Highlanders.
“New Zealand games are so tough, you have good runs against certain sides but others have the wood on you. We won’t be looking at the history, but they are a good side at home”.
Charlie Ngatai Works On Cardio As Recovery Continues
Charlie Ngatai was present at the Chiefs training on Monday, but head coach Dave Rennie once again stressed that the midfielders return is in its early stage.
Ngatai, 26, has been sidelined since May 2016 in what has become clear was a very serious concussion. Ngatai had earned All Black selection, but due to lingering affects of the concussion, was forced to leave camp ahead of the Steinlager Series against Wales. Ngatai hasn’t played a game of rugby since. On Monday, Ngatai was helping out where he could at the team training.
“He’s getting better and is now coming in and doing a little bit”, Rennie said.
“We are going to build on that, and even from a cardio point of view we plan on upping the ante a little bit”.
Stephen Donald, Johnny Fa’auli, and Tim Nanai-Williams are all options to fill in the space of Ngatai. Out of those options; Nanai-Williams has the most midfield experience for the Chiefs.
Sam Cane, one of the most experienced Chiefs players, remains uncertain for selection ahead of Friday’s season opener. So far, Cane hasn’t clocked any minutes during the Chiefs pre season trials due to an ankle injury suffered last November. Mitch Karpik and Lachlan Boshier are in the running to replace Cane.
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