Freelancers Like Us Are Going To Be OK During COVID-19

Last week, on Twitter, I posted that I’d block anyone who played the ‘feel sorry for me’ or ‘please donate to my Patreon because I’m now out of work’ game.

The bottom line is this: we are all in a s**t situation thanks to COVID-19, and freelancers like ourselves have taken a big hit financially. Now is the time to have a bit of perspective, as hard as it might be.

Personally, if I am to be self-indulgent for a moment, I am now all but redundant until further notice. I am not the only one.

It would be easy for me, like many others who have been in the same position recently, to go on an all-out content push in the hopes that it would fill the void of what I may have had before.

Perhaps I am even guilty of this at times, but IMO there is a lot of gross and shameless self-promotion on social media these days.

When I transitioned from social media journo to regular mainstream journo, I noticed how loud the Twitter-sphere really was. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but it’s just loud, getting louder by the day in fact.

There are some who are really good at promoting themselves and have some genuinely good content worth following them for, but there are others who

So as the lockdown begins and we ponder the next month (at least) of being confined largely to our homes, what’s the best way to deal with this? There’s certainly been no shortage of guides, how-to blogs and inspiring stories of how people are making the most of the situation floating around the internet in the past couple of weeks.

The first way to make the best of self-isolation is to understand that you’ll likely go through different stages. You’ll tell yourself you’ve got a plan, but the key moving forward is to not overdo anything. That includes making content for the sake of making content because you feel like your platform can’t afford to take a break.

For some, it may also be a good opportunity to go back to some of the platforms we’ve let get dusty, or potentially some of us can put ourselves out there and create completely new ones.

Personally, my first plan was to get back into streaming on Twitch, record a ton of extra podcasts and even begin writing a book.

But in reality, I’ve really only done a couple of streams and podcasts, spending the rest of my time keeping a close eye on the news, watching Netflix and playing PlayStation.

It’s going to take time to adjust to our new lives, and you will likely stumble off the mark. I know that I certainly have.

Today, by way of this blog, is the first time I’ve managed to get some concentrated writing done, and I did it with no idea of what I was going to type on the blank word document other than the ideology of getting something published online.

That’s probably why the general direction of this piece is all over the shop.

PlayStation got in contact this morning, the new Predator: Hunting Grounds trial weekend is open for gaming media and fans alike from today, so I will have a go at that and write up a preview blog for the game on Monday after I’ve had some hands-on time.

Us rugby journos had a phone conference with the Chiefs CEO and media manager earlier and I am glad to report that there will be some opportunities to talk to players about their respective self-isolation experiences.

I also redesigned the blog, so if you are reading this, be sure to let me know how it looks!

Stay safe, don’t push yourself too hard. Keep what’s most important nestled in the forefront of your mind, you are (hopefully) healthy and safe, surely this is what really matters in the current climate.

Super Rugby 2019: Chiefs Squad Analysis

Like they have in seasons prior, the Chiefs will field a squad that features a mix of proven performers and unknown young talent ahead of the 2019 Investec Super Rugby campaign.

That unknown talent has a proven track record to defy all expectations in Chiefs country. Don’t believe this pundit? Look no further than last season. Several players with little pedigree went on to become top-level performers and influenced the games that the Chiefs managed to win.

In 2019, the Chiefs keep their members of the core leadership group (Retallick, Cane, McKenzie, Harris, etc). As expected, they welcome some exciting new talent also, such as rising Sevens star Etene Nanai-Seturo and All Blacks wider squad prop Reuben O’Niell.

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Japanese international Ataata Moekiola joins the ranks, and a surprise selection for experienced Super Rugby utility back Jack Debreczeni provides cover in several positions. Debreczeni will be known to New Zealand rugby fans after stints for Northland in the Mitre 10 Cup, and regular selections for the Melbourne Rebels in previous Super Rugby seasons.

Colin Cooper Needs Consistency from Chiefs in 2019

For head coach Colin Cooper, embarking on his new coaching role with the Chiefs wasn’t a daunting experience, but a relishing one. Cooper frequently spoke about being more comfortable at this later point in his coaching career compared to his previous Super Rugby role at the Hurricanes. Added to that, Cooper’s successful time coaching the Maori All Blacks saw the proud Taranaki man arrive in Chiefs country feeling at ease and with little to prove.

Cooper’s first year at the helm was a reasonably successful one all told, but a high number of injuries to key players along the way was an unwelcome reality for a squad that was already depleted of some big names from the year prior. The likes of Aaron Cruden, James Lowe, and Tawera Kerr-Barlow (just to name a few) were gone, leaving some serious pressure on younger players in the backline to fill that void. The likes of Sean Wainui and Soloman Aliamalo stood into their respective roles and stood out in particular.

Injuries to Sam Cane and Brodie Rettallick hampered the forward pack throughout 2018, but it saw players like Mitch Karpik, Michael Allardice, and in particular, big props Karl Tu’inukuafe and Angus Ta’avao really shine when their moment came. Through these brave and forced selections, Cooper showed a keen eye to spot a mixture talent on different ends of the age spectrum, but all of which, with little experience at Super Rugby level.

Individual Stories of Intrigue in Selections for 2019

When you look at this Chiefs squad for 2019 on paper, it reads a lot as you’d expect, with a few exceptions.

Some of the new selections were scouted early on, including new midfielder Bailyn Sullivan. During his time with the Mooloos, Sullivan was reported to have been entering conversations with Chiefs coaches from as early as the opening weeks of the Mitre 10 Cup campaign with the Mooloos.

But for some of the more experienced and well-known names in the squad, like Brad Weber, the 2019 season presents the opportunity for one last shot at higher honors.

When The Real Michael Pulman spoke with Weber recently, the 27-year old said he was still gunning for a spot in the All Blacks ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The one time All Black has consistently missed International selection in recent seasons despite performing on the park across both Super and Mitre 10 Cup rugby. In 2018, Weber was overlooked in favor of fellow Chiefs halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, and Weber himself, whilst happy for Tahuriorangi’s success, was left frustrated when he didn’t receive any communication from All Black coaches with guidance as to where he needed to improve his game.

Likewise with players like Shaun Stevenson, proven at Super Rugby level but seen to be “not quite ready” for the black jersey. 2019 presents players like Weber and Stevenson, amongst many others, with an unlikely yet still very achievable bolt into Steve Hansen’s All Blacks ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Super Rugby 2019: Chiefs Squad Analysis

So where to in terms of Super Rugby honors for this franchise?

In 2018, the Chiefs managed to make the playoffs but rued several basic mistakes on a terrible night in Wellington where they would lose to the Hurricanes by just a single point, but in a match where the scoreline really humbled the visitors.

Really, the performance that night was a fitting example of Chiefs season that was never able to maintain any real consistency, and one that also failed to secure results in the matches that really mattered.

The Chiefs have always had the ability to win the title since their back-to-back run in 2012/13, but a mixture of injuries and a lack of continuity of winning results have hampered those efforts significantly. At times, one could argue that there have also been some off-field dramas that haven’t helped the cause.

Furthermore, the Chiefs seem to be a side more prone to mass injuries if recent examples are anything to go by. Those injuries have left everyone involved with this franchise frustrated in recent seasons, so for Cooper and his fellow assistant coaches, the goal will just be to get through the November/December/January period with little concern in this area.

The 2019 version of this Chiefs squad doesn’t scream title-winning favorites by any stretch, but it certainly provides the depth, proven experience, and world-class talent to be a serious contender once again.

The Full Chiefs Squad For 2019:

Props
Kane Hames (Tasman)
Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty)
Reuben O’Neill (Taranaki)
Nepo Laulala (Counties Manukau)
Atu Moli (Waikato)
Sosefo Kautai (Waikato)
Angus Ta’avao (Taranaki)
Hookers
Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty)
Liam Polwart (Bay of Plenty)
Samisoni Taukei’aho (Waikato)
Locks
Brodie Retallick (Hawke’s Bay)
Tyler Ardron (Bay of Plenty)
Laghlan McWhannell (Waikato)
Michael Allardice (Hawke’s Bay)
Fin Hoeata (Taranaki)
Loose forwards
Mitchell Brown (Taranaki)
Taleni Seu (Auckland)
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty)
Mitchell Karpik (Bay of Plenty)
Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki)
Luke Jacobson (Waikato)
Pita Gus Sowakula (Taranaki)
Halfbacks
Brad Weber (Hawke’s Bay)
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Taranaki)
Jonathan Taumateine (Counties Manukau)
First five-eighths
Damian McKenzie (Waikato)
Tiaan Falcon (Hawke’s Bay)
Jack Debreczeni (Northland)
Midfielders
Alex Nankivell (Tasman)
Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato)
Tumua Manu (Auckland)
Bailyn Sullivan (Waikato)
Outside backs
Solomon Alaimalo (Tasman)
Sean Wainui (Taranaki)
Ataata Moeakiola (Japan)
Etene Nanai-Seturo (Counties Manukau)
Shaun Stevenson (North Harbour)
Marty McKenzie (Taranaki)

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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

Liam Messam’s Chiefs Return a No-Brainer

As the most-capped Chiefs player of all time, there is no doubt at all that Liam Messam should return to the club and see out the 2016 campaign.

Popular with the entire organisation, Messam has amassed 144 caps for the Chiefs and was co-captain in seasons past. A former All Black and Rugby World Cup winner, Messam also dabbled in boxing prior to his Sevens Rugby bid. Once his Sevens dream was over, Messam’s Japanese club Toshiba granted him permission to pursue a return to the Chiefs.

Messam’s return is certain, not only because of the large number of injuries that have hit the Chiefs front row recently either. Continue reading Liam Messam’s Chiefs Return a No-Brainer

Charlie Ngatai Still Sidelined With Concussion

Charlie Ngatai continues to be sidelined from playing rugby as symptoms from a concussion sustained nearly two months ago continue to linger.

The midfielder took a knock in the latter stages of the Chiefs’ Round 11 loss to the Highlanders in Hamilton and has been sidelined ever since. Despite being named in the All Blacks, Ngatai was sent home after just a week of training with the squad.

Speaking to the media three weeks ago, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said that the prognosis on Ngatai’s return to rugby was unknown.

Fans will have to wait at least another week to see the standout midfielder back on the park. Ngatai hasn’t made the Chiefs travelling squad for Friday’s clash against the Crusaders in Suva, an historic night for Super Rugby, marking the first time a game has been played in the pacific.

The Chiefs currently sit second on the New Zealand Conference table in Super Rugby.

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

Chiefs Beat Blues With Another Impressive Performance

Five tries helped the Chiefs to a deserving 29-23 win over the Blues in the Battle of the Bombays.

Aaron Cruden and Shaun Stevenson scored tries with their pace and by being able to draw in defenders, leaving Damian McKenzie to come through with crucial points off the boot when it really mattered.

Mitchell Graham scored his first try in Super Rugby, and Seta Tamanivalu showed his worth in the midfield with a try from pure strength close to the line.

The Blues toiled away all game long and threw everything at a Chiefs defense that proved to be too superior.

What is remarkable is that the Chiefs, despite all their travel, again proved that their fitness, undeniably, sets the standard in Super Rugby this year. Scoring four tries in total, their physicality on defense shut down a Blues side that didn’t kick for territory and rather tried a too direct approach.

The Blues scored two tries, and were in a position to win the game with a ten-point lead before the Chiefs came storming back with three tries in the second half. Continue reading Chiefs Beat Blues With Another Impressive Performance