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

The Chiefs: News of note (Sunday 22nd May, 2016)

Here is the latest out of the Chiefs camp following the sides 36-15 victory over the Melbourne Rebels.

Michael Leitch To Miss Two Months 

After dislocating his thumb, Michael Leitch will miss up to two months of Super Rugby action. With one round remaining before the month-long international window, and a further three rounds after that until the playoffs, it is likely the kiwi-born Japanese captain will return for knockout rugby.

Aaron Cruden’s Personal Motivation Reminder 

Spotted on the left wristband of Aaron Cruden is written a generic code with letters and numbers. This code is the All Black-regular’s National Health Number (NHN) and it serves as motivation for Cruden on the field, reminding him of his battle with testicular cancer. Cruden says the use of this is a personal message to himself for each game.

“When things get tough on the field, it is something to look back on and know that you have to keep giving it your all”, Cruden said.

Charlie Ngatai Will Play Against Waratahs 

Charlie Ngatai is set to return to the Chiefs midfield for Friday nights clash against the Waratahs in Sydney after it has been revealed that symptoms of a concussion have fully healed. Ngatai’s inclusion will likely be at the expense of Anton Lienert-Brown.

 

 

 

Tana Umaga Takes Big Gamble Ahead Of Crusaders Clash

The bravery of Blues head coach Tana Umaga has to be admired after six changes are made to the starting squad for week two.

The Blues will face the Crusaders, a side that lost to the Chiefs last week, but also a group of players that didn’t look all that much better than the Highlanders in the opening week of Super Rugby, but that is beyond the point.

When was the last time a head coach made six changes to the starting line up after coming off a victory in a game that many predicted the side to lose?

You’d be scratching your head in all truth, it seems that Tana Umaga could find himself in a situation where he has more guts than sense.

Such a number of changes can be expected at the level of provincial rugby.

But if you look at the experience in the forward pack, such a statement could be somewhat unfair. Steven Luatua, Patrick Tuipulotu, the returning Jerome Kaino, all regular All Blacks, will feature as part of Umaga’s run on side against the Crusaders.

Perhaps the six changes is perceived to be all the more surprising because of the amount of star power Umaga left on the bench last week.

With the six changes, the biggest surprise comes in the pairing of the halves.

Both Ihaia West and Bryn Hall have been replaced, both performed strongly against the Highlanders and will be left scratching their heads following this afternoons’ announcement. Hall in particular should be feeling angry, he was by far the best scrum half of Super Rugby’s opening weekend, and his demotion should be questioned, even so early into the season.

Rene Ranger will start in the midfield, so the Blues will pack more strength and power in the backline, and if the pre season trials are anything to go by, NRL convert Matt Duffy is more than capable at fullback.

The Crusaders won’t be an easy beat for Umaga’s Blues, and the result will answer a lot of questions about the success of his approach to coaching in Super Rugby.

Chiefs Flanker Mitchell Karpik Sidelined With ACL Injury

The Chiefs have suffered another season-ending injury before competition even begins, this time promising openside flanker Mitch Karpik.

As reported on The Real Michael Pulman last Friday, Karpik was seen on crutches following the 17-12 victory over the Waratahs in a trial game.

Following scans, Karpik ruptured the ACL in his left knee, the incident occurring when the 20-year old was involved in contact during Friday’s game. Karpik’s expected recovery time is 6-9 months, ruling him out of Super Rugby in 2016.

Karpik says he is really disappointed but sees the injury as a bump in the road. With time to focus on his University studies, Karpik said he will continue to cheer on the Chiefs from the sidelines.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is also bitterly disappointed for Karpik after being impressed by what the young openside flanker had to offer during the trial match where the injury occurred.

“His debut in Friday’s game was impressive and further reinforced the hugely promising future he has ahead of him,” Rennie said.

Karpik will undergo surgery in the near future.

EXCLUSIVE: Bryn Gatland heading to Blues development

Bryn Gatland is set to head up the Waikato Expressway and ply his trade at a developmental level for the Blues.

The Real Michael Pulman has learnt that Gatland will be a part of the Blues development side during the 2016 Super Rugby season, returning to the city of sails where he previously played for a Blues Schools side back in 2013.

Gatland has spent the last couple of years in the Waikato and was a big stand out for Old Boys in this years Hamilton club season.

Gatland debuted for the Mooloos at ITM Cup level in 2015 but says the move to Auckland is best for his career going forward.

The 20-year old is the son of kiwi-born Welsh international coach Warren Gatland.