How 2016 changed Damian McKenzie

Super Rugby pre-season is now in session, and the Chiefs continues to be a great destination for blooding expressive young talent keen to get time on the field.

The Chiefs showed great signs of improvement during 2016’s Super Rugby campaign. It wasn’t as if Dave Rennie’s men were particularly bad the season prior, but some young talent really came into itself throughout 2016, and they helped the Chiefs to much success.

Despite having some rich experience in the form of seasoned veterans, the Chiefs have become the best club in New Zealand at developing young talent into International quality players.   Continue reading How 2016 changed Damian McKenzie

Cautions issued to Chiefs players after stripper incident

New Zealand Rugby has dismissed claims that Chiefs players sexually assaulted a stripper at a post-season function.

This finding from an official investigation comes as no surprise to anyone.

Formal cautions have been issued to all Chiefs players. The woman at the heart of this story, a stripper, has said that she is disappointed but not surprised by the conclusion of the investigation.  Continue reading Cautions issued to Chiefs players after stripper incident

Michael Leitch Returns For Chiefs Semi Final Clash

Loose-forward Michael Leitch has been named on the bench for the Chiefs Super Rugby semi final against the Hurricanes this weekend.

Leitch’s selection marks an end to a much-awaited return to rugby after several months on the sidelines. Leitch hasn’t been seen since May when he dislocated his right thumb during the side’s home clash against the Rebels. His return will give the Chiefs significant experience of the bench at a crucial time of playoff rugby.  Continue reading Michael Leitch Returns For Chiefs Semi Final Clash

Sam McNicol Relishing Regular Game Time With Chiefs

A year ago, no one knew who Sam McNicol was, but this is a 20-year old with some serious heart among a lot of adversity.

You couldn’t blame McNicol for questioning his place in rugby after having to go through so many injuries, but the young winger has never given up and is now being rewarded with regular game time.  Continue reading Sam McNicol Relishing Regular Game Time With Chiefs

Charlie Ngatai again misses out on Chiefs selection

The Chiefs have made just one change to their starting squad ahead of their clash against the Australian conference-leading Waratahs on Friday night.

Tom Sanders is promoted from the bench to start at No.8 to replace the injured Michael Leitch who dislocated his thumb last week against the Rebels. Leitch underwent surgery today but head coach Dave Rennie says that the kiwi-born Japanese captain could be available come playoffs time.

“If he can come right, he will be in the reckoning if we get there”, Rennie said.

The Chiefs’ other loose-forward option Maama Vaipula wasn’t considered for selection due to a knock sustained during club rugby last weekend. Continue reading Charlie Ngatai again misses out on Chiefs selection

Chiefs prepare to launch beginning with home clash against Rebels

The Chiefs say their confidence hasn’t been dented despite a poor loss to the in-form Highlanders last time out in which ball security was a major issue.

Head coach Dave Rennie says he spent a lot of time looking at his sides last performance on video during the bye week.

“We had a pretty brutal review, but in the end it is a pretty good learning curve for us and the Highlanders exposed a couple of areas that we need to be sharper in”, Rennie said.

The Chiefs believe that they are in a position to launch towards the playoffs with just four rounds of regular competition remaining, and two rounds remaining before the June international window that will see a handful of the Chiefs players going off on All Black duties. Continue reading Chiefs prepare to launch beginning with home clash against Rebels

22,000 Ready To Rock At FMG Stadium For Local Derby

Everyone loves a local New Zealand derby, and for the winner of the Chiefs vs Highlanders clash tonight, there is a big statement to make by doing so.

With three close losses so far this season, the Highlanders are yet to convince that they are capable of claiming back-to-back Super Rugby titles despite having arguably the strongest line up on paper to do so.

The return of Waisake Naholo will complete the Highlanders back line, and with the likes of Malakai Fekitoa, Ben Smith, and Patrick Osborne alongside, the backs have the power to steamroll their way through the Chiefs defense, but they can only do this with plenty of ball in hand.

Kicking possession to the Chiefs back three should result in the Chiefs getting good go forward.

The only way the Highlanders can win this game is to throw everything they have at the Chiefs with ball in hand, take risks, and kick the all important penalty goals that will come a plenty. Continue reading 22,000 Ready To Rock At FMG Stadium For Local Derby

Damian McKenzie Will Stay In Hamilton For Further 2 Years

The hottest property in New Zealand Rugby will stay with the Chiefs for another two years.

Damian McKenzie has signed on with the Chiefs for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, extending his contract with the club for another two years.

The 21-year old says that the environment and quality of the coaching staff was key in his decision to put pen to paper.

“The team environment is one of a kind and the wider organisation has been very helpful with my career so far”, McKenzie said.

McKenzie says he has a lot of respect for head coach Dave Rennie, and thanks to the help of assistant coach Andrew Strawbridge, McKenzie has taken his kicking game to another level in the past year. Continue reading Damian McKenzie Will Stay In Hamilton For Further 2 Years

Loss Of Kerr-Barlow No Big Deal For Chiefs

The loss of Tawera Kerr-Barlow is no big deal for the Chiefs, because the question of who starts in the halfback role shouldn’t be up for discussion.

Kerr-Barlow broke his hand in a ‘random incident’ during the Chiefs narrow 28-27 win over the Hurricanes.

Brad Weber, young in age but not in skill, has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past two seasons in Super Rugby.

His leadership of the Mooloos in ITM Cup saw Weber grow in confidence, and when given a chance by Dave Rennie for the Chiefs, Weber took it with both hands and managed to secure himself a test match debut for the All Blacks against Samoa last July. Continue reading Loss Of Kerr-Barlow No Big Deal For Chiefs

Chiefs Regular James Lowe To Miss Hurricanes Clash

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The Chiefs have named an experience squad, but have still sprung a couple of surprises ahead of their Saturday night clash against the Hurricanes.

Dave Rennie has chosen a forward pack with mixed experience for a clash against one of Super Rugby’s toughest packs.

In the locks, Michael Allardice replaces Dominic Bird who will be rested for another week after knocking his just-healed foot during the last game against the Blues, and loose forward Tom Sanders gets the nod over the impressive Taleni Seu.

It will be the most inexperienced wings combination that the Chiefs have fielded all season with Sam McNicol moving in to start on the left wing over regular starter James Lowe. Toni Pulu has also trumped Shaun Stevenson on the right wing to make his third start of the season

The Chiefs say that Lowe suffered an injury during training this week, but McNicol’s selection was one based on form.

A lingering knee infection has again ruled Anton Lienert-Brown out of the picture, but Charlie Ngatai has passed fitness tests to make the starting line up after an injury scare.

Andrew Horrell also returns, coming off a lengthy injury to take his place on the bench for what will be his 50th Super Rugby appearance.

The full Chiefs squad to take on the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday night at 7.35pm:

  1. Mitchell Graham (18)
  2. Rhys Marshall (29)
  3. Atu Moli (4)
  4. Michael Allardice (13)
  5. Brodie Retallick (62)
  6. Tom Sanders (5)
  7. Sam Cane (72) co-captain
  8. Michael Leitch (19)
  9. Brad Weber (31)
  10. Aaron Cruden (63) co-captain
  11. Sam McNicol (4)
  12. Charlie Ngatai (38)
  13. Seta Tamanivalu (13)
  14. Toni Pulu (2)
  15. Damian McKenzie (23)