Dominic Bird To Start For Chiefs

All Black lock Dominic Bird will make his debut for the Chiefs against the Blues as Chiefs coach Dave Rennie makes five changes.

The experienced lock has been nursing a fractured foot that has seen him miss the opening six rounds of Super Rugby. During that time, Bird has remained a key figure off the field by helping the Chiefs improve their lineout with valuable advice.

Bird could have returned last week against the Brumbies but another few days training has seen him catapulted into the Chiefs starting line-up. Continue reading Dominic Bird To Start For Chiefs

Chiefs Win Historic Jaguares Encounter 30-26 In Thriller

Brad Weber has scored what will go down as a famous try to hand the Chiefs a win over the Jaguares 30-26 in a thrilling finish.

A full house and expectant home crowd packed into Estadio Jose in Bruenos Aires for the Jaguares historic first home game in Super Rugby, and the new side packed full of regular Pumas nearly pulled off something special.

Leading at the break, the Jaguares appeared to have just fallen short, before a brilliant breakaway try with three minutes remaining put the hosts in front.

But a try at the death by Brad Weber, following by a perfect kick from Damian McKenzie on the touch line, snatched victory for the Chiefs, making Weber a hero, and providing a thrilling finish to one of the best matches in Super Rugby history.

Weber can pay a lot of his historic moment to Aaron Cruden, showing all his class as an All Black regular, helping to setup the try, and creating space for Weber to run into.

The full story:

Argentine rugby is known for its power at scrum time, so perhaps it was fate that the first try the Jaguares would score at home in Argentina came from this. Jaguares captain Augistin Creevy getting the honours as the first to score a try for the club playing at home.

A handling error after the kick off saw the Jaguares early lead be quickly snatched away, quick hands by the Chiefs backline saw winger Sam MicNicol score his debut try in Super Rugby in the corner.

Damian McKenzie added a fourth try in as many matches to increase the Chiefs lead after the Jaguares coughed up possession near their own try line for the second time.

Constant penalties began to mount against the Chiefs as the Jaguares continued to play their expansive, fast-flowing, and brave style, refusing to kick possession away. All Black halfback and experienced Chiefs player Tawera Kerr-Barlow was sent to the sin bin for playing the ball on the ground and illegally taking possession away from the Jaguares.

Nicolas Sanchez’s boot saw the Jaguares kick their way back into the lead with the score 14-13 at half time.

With Aaron Cruden failing to convert on his chances in the first half, Damian McKenzie was given the kicking duties, and continued his rich vain of form with the boot to kick the Chiefs back into the lead.

The dominance that the Jaguares had in the scrum fell away, and when the handling errors continued, Chiefs midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown created a counter attack, and James Lowe was there to clutch the pass and score in the corner.

The Jaguares kept their faith in an expansive style of rugby, often attempting to run the ball out of their own goal line.

After television replays showed Martin Landojo had touched the ball down, the Jaguars were right back in the match, and it was their daring brand of rugby that had been on the script all night that turned the match on its head again.

From deep in their own half, and helped by weak tackles from Chiefs defenders, Martias Moroni raced away to score, and put the Jaguares into the lead.

With precious time remaining, the Chiefs were awarded a scrum, and after a successful execution, Aaron Cruden found space and connected with Brad Weber to score a try that put the Chiefs back in front, but only by two points.

Damian McKenzie converted from out wide, giving the Chiefs a 30-26 lead, and the win.

Score Centre

Jaguares 26

(Augistin Creevy, Martin Landojo, Martias Moroni, Nicolas Sanchez 3 pen, 1 con)

Chiefs 30

(Sam McNicol, James Lowe, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie 1 try, 1 pen, 2 con, Aaron Cruden 1 pen)

Chiefs Beat Crusaders 27-21 In Nail-Biter

The Chiefs are off to a winning start in the 2016 Super Rugby competition after scoring a narrow victory over the Crusaders 27-21 in Christchurch.

Key performances by Damian McKenzie and Taleni Seu contributed to the win.

McKenzie scored his first try at Super Rugby level and also converted a kick from the sideline to put the Chiefs into the lead late in the game.

Returning to rugby, Aaron Cruden impressed, leading the Chiefs backline around the field while getting into a few scuffles with Crusaders halfback Andy Ellis.

On his debut, Shaun Stevenson scored in an individual moment of brilliance, but his season could be over after suffering what could be a serious shoulder injury early in the second half.

Also under the injury cloud is Tom Sanders who limped from the field.

The full story:

A dangerous Chiefs backline was completely neutralized in the opening 25-minutes, and any ball the Chiefs did have was kicked away quickly. The Crusaders held possession and managed to keep themselves deep in Chiefs territory, winning the crucial set-piece battle early on.

Damian McKenzie kicked the Chiefs first three points with a long-range kick from halfway.

Shaun Stevenson couldn’t believe his luck when he ripped the ball from the hands of Crusaders fullback and had a clear run to the tryline.

Down by 7-points, a massive shunt at the shunt saw Kieran Read find the ball in his hands. Read handed off to an unmarked Richie Mo’unga, and the Crusaders scored a crucial try on the hooter to put them back in the lead.

At halftime, the Crusaders led 13-8.

Seta Tamanivalu scored to put the Chiefs back in the lead after several phases of attack to kick off the second half.

Meanwhile, Chiefs youngster Shaun Stevenson left the field with what appeared to be a broken arm or serious shoulder injury.

David Havili made up for his earlier mistake on the night with a try in the corner, putting the Crusaders back into the lead, a lead that Mo’unga later extended to 6-points when the Chiefs were penalized for obstruction.

McKenzie scored his first Chiefs try, and put the Chiefs in the lead by successfully landing the conversion, making the score 22-21.

Referee Chris Pollock called a halt to play after Crusaders replacement Reed Prinsep Suffered a major concussion following a big head clash in the act of making a tackle. Prinsep’s head knock caused a lengthy delay to play as medics followed all protocols for such a serious injury.

Sam Cane scored from a lineout drive to put the icing on the cake, sealing victory in the 78th minute.

The Chiefs held on to win 27-21, and secured their first win of Super Rugby.

Score Centre

Crusaders 21 

(David Havili, Richie Mo’unga 1 try, 3 pen)

Chiefs 27

(Shaun Stevenson, Seta Tamanivalu, Sam Cane, Aaron Cruden 1 con, Damian McKenzie 1 try, 1 con, 1 pen)

Shaun Stevenson To Debut For Chiefs On The Wing

Rookie Shaun Stevenson has done enough at training to earn a debut for the Chiefs in the opening round of Super Rugby.

Stevenson, 19, impressed in his debut ITM Cup season, scoring four tries for Waikato, but his place on the wing for the Chiefs is somewhat of an unknown position.

Stevenson has previously played most of his rugby at fullback, but the youngster is just one of five debutants for the Chiefs on Saturday night.

Japanese prop Hiroshi Yamashita makes his debut after only arriving in New Zealand a fortnight ago as cover for the injured Nepo Laulala, and after impressing head coach Dave Rennie during scrum sessions, Yamashita will get his first taste of Super Rugby going up against Owen Franks for the Crusaders.

Loose-forward Taleni Seu will start on debut, and no.8 Tom Sanders has also done enough to warrant a start on debut.

Aaron Cruden will also make his long-awaited return to Super Rugby against the Crusaders, returning to the very ground where he suffered a season-ending injury in the corresponding fixture last year. Chiefs coaches say Cruden is ready to go after being involved in full contact at training for the past month or so.

The Chiefs play the Crusaders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday night at 7.30pm.

The Chiefs squad for Round #1 against Crusaders:

  1. Pauliasi Manu (45)
  2. Rhys Marshall (22)
  3. Hiroshi Yamashita**
  4. Michael Allardice (7)
  5. Brodie Retallick (59)
  6. Taleni Seu**
  7. Sam Cane (65) co-captain
  8. Tom Sanders**
  9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (56)
  10. Aaron Cruden (56) co-captain
  11. James Lowe (21)
  12. Charlie Ngatai (31)
  13. Seta Tamanivalu (6)
  14. Shaun Stevenson**
  15. Damian McKenzie (16)      

RESERVES:

  1. Nathan Harris (12)
  2. Mitchell Graham (11)
  3. Siate Tokolahi (17)
  4. Maama Vaipulu (10)
  5. Johan Bardoul (8)
  6. Brad Weber (24)
  7. Anton Lienert-Brown (9)
  8. Latu Vaeno**

 

“Mean” Brodie Retallick Ready For The Real Stuff

With their opening match of Super Rugby just days away, Brodie Retallick has a mixture of nerves and excitement ahead of a season where he knows many will be looking at him as the ‘go to’ guy.

At 24 years of age, Retallick is arguably the best lock in world rugby and his performances in the field prove it, almost on a weekly basis.

A vital cog in the All Blacks RWC victory in 2015, Retallick has had a good rest over the summer and is looking forward to another busy year of rugby.

Retallick played in both pre season trials where the Chiefs beat the Waratahs before falling to the Blues in an ordinary performance last Friday. On reflection, Retallick said the team has sat down and looked at individual performances in order to get gremlins ironed out.

“There is still a few things we are working on but it is exciting to get into the real stuff now that the trial games are out of the way,” Retallick said.

In Saturday’s opener, Retallick will go up against good friend and All Black teammate Sam Whitelock. The winning of the game, according to Retallick, isn’t just determined by the battle between the two forward packs.

“It is always good to go up against quality opposition, they have a great pack, but if we can get our tight five going forward it will help a long way to winning, hopefully we can assert a bit of dominance and let the backs to their work,” Retallick said.

Likely to partner with Michael Allardice in the opening round, Retallick has been impressed with his understudy.

“He is a great player, and with Dominic being injured, him and others have had to take over a lot of the workload and push themselves hard,” Retallick said.

Retallick made his debut for the Chiefs back in 2012 and has since gone on to amass 59 caps with four tries scored in four years of Super Rugby.

Critics would say that just one try per year at Super Rugby level isn’t enough to warrant continual selection for the All Blacks, but it is Retallick’s role as a leader that has been the biggest noticeable aspect of Retallick’s game.

On the field, Retallick is a powerhouse at set piece time and a constant threat at the breakdown and in lineouts.

Part of the 2012 and 2013 back-to-back championship winning Chiefs side, Retallick realises the thirst that rugby fans in the Waikato region and beyond for a return to the top of Southern Hemisphere’s flagship domestic competition.

Retallick knows there is a long season ahead, and as an integral part of the side, Retallick knows a lot of the onus is on him to help the Chiefs back to the top. This is all being done while adapting to the new setup in Super Rugby, including a new bonus-point system where a team is required to score three more tries than the opposition to secure an extra point, something that has been a big talking point by players and media alike.

“We are trying our best, what will be will be, but we have two new coaches on board with Dave so we are just trying to work together as a team and put what we have been doing in training out on the field in pressure situations,” Retallick.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie says that Retallick doesn’t need to do anything special for the Chiefs in 2016, just go out on the field and deliver the same performances that has saw the 24-year old lock be crowned IRB World Player of the year in 2014.

“Hopefully he can be as mean as normal,” Rennie laughed, “Brodie will be the instigator of the physicality up front that we need but we really just want him to deliver what he normally does,” Rennie said.

Retallick, and the Chiefs, get their season underway on Saturday night in Christchurch against the Crusaders.

Blues Beat Chiefs Despite Losing Kaino After Punch

Poor discipline from the Chiefs has seen the Blues come away with a 24-12 victory in Pukekohe.

Head coach Dave Rennie will be less than pleased with his side after the Chiefs gave away 13 penalties, many coming in the second half, allowing the Blues to come charging back into the match after a poor opening.

Blues captain Jerome Kaino had been red carded early in the second half after punching Chiefs prop Pauliasi Manu, but replays showed no intention and just an accident by Kaino.

But the Chiefs couldn’t take advantage of having an extra man, and if anything, Kaino’s sending off had a profound effect on the Blues and they would go on to score three further tries.

In his return to rugby, Aaron Cruden helped the Chiefs out to an early lead, setting up Seta Tamanivalu for a try after casually stepping his way through the Blues defense in a breathtaking move.

Cruden played about 60-minutes and looked dangerous with ball in hand, but his kicking game needs a bit of work.

Glen Fisiiahi was also impressive again, showing his speed on the wing.

Score Centre:

Chiefs 14

(Charlie Ngatai, Seta Tamanivalu, Aaron Cruden 1 con)

Blues 24

(Patrick Tuipulotu, Bryn Hall, Lolagi Visinia, Matt Duffy, Ihaia West 1 con, Mark Guyton 1 con)

Chiefs Suffer Two More Injuries In Trial Match

Despite winning their opening practice match ahead of Super Rugby’s pre season, the Chiefs have added another two casualties to the injury ward in the process.

The Chiefs claimed a sloppy 17-12 win over the Waratahs at Rotorua’s International Stadium, but it is at the cost of one important cog in the forward pack and a fresh new up and comer.

No 8 Maama Vaipulu has suffered an injury to his right shoulder, and after being taken from the field, had in a sling on the sidelines.

Openside flanker Mitchell Karpik injured his left knee and was on crutches after the match.

Prop Nepo Laulala and flanker Dominic Bird have already been ruled out of Super Rugby with separate injuries, and the match fitness of Stephen Donald is also in question as he continues to suffer a niggling groin injury.

 

 

Donald named in Chiefs 2016 roster

It is the highest turnover in four years with 14 new faces, but the Chiefs will once again field a championship-capable side in 2016 that includes the notable return of one RWC hero.

Stephen Donald returns after four years away to provide the Chiefs with another goal kicking option. Famous for his World Cup winning kick in 2011 for the All Blacks, Donald provides a large amount of experience that will tutor the younger players in the backline well.

After suffering a season-ending injury, Aaron Cruden will be match fit by February, giving the Chiefs the option to field two first fives with proven match winning experience at the highest level of rugby.

Sonny Bill Williams and Liam Messam will not be a part of Super Rugby in 2016 due to their international sevens commitments.

Big scalps from other sides in the competition include the Crusaders due of lock Dominic Bird and prop Nepo Laulala, plus the injection of former Warriors NRL star Glen Fisiiahi in the backs will keep a lot of media and fans alike interested.

The Chiefs will spend more time away from home in 2016 and will be the first side to travel to Beunos Aires where they will tackle the new Argentine Super Rugby side that includes the exciting Nicolas Sanchez.

Coach Dave Rennie is currently offshore but says the Chiefs squad for 2016 is high on character with a competitive edge.

The full Chiefs squad for 2016:

Michael Allardice – Lock (Hawke’s Bay)
Johan Bardoul – Loose forward (Bay of Plenty)
Dominic Bird – Lock (Canterbury)**
Sam Cane – Loose forward (Bay of Plenty)
Stephen Donald – First five-eighth (Waikato)
Aaron Cruden – First five-eighth (Manawatu)
Hika Elliot – Hooker (Taranaki)
Glen Fisiiahi – Utility Back (Counties Manukau)*
Siegfried Fisiihoi – Prop (Bay of Plenty)*
Mitchell Graham – Prop (Taranaki)
Nathan Harris – Hooker (Bay of Plenty)
Andrew Horrell – Midfield back (Hawke’s Bay)
Mitchell Karpik – Loose forward (Auckland-Bay of Plenty)*
Tawera Kerr-Barlow – Halfback (Waikato)
Tevita Koloamatangi – Loose forward (Tasman)
Nepo Laulala – Prop (Canterbury)**
Michael Leitch – Loose forward (Japan)
Anton Lienert-Brown – Midfield back (Waikato)
James Lowe – Winger (Tasman)
Pauliasi Manu – Prop (Counties Manukau)
Rhys Marshall – Hooker (Taranaki)
Damian McKenzie – First five-eighth/Fullback (Waikato)
Sam McNicol – Outside back (Wellington)**
Atu Moli – Prop (Waikato)*
Charlie Ngatai – Midfield back (Taranaki)
Augustine Pulu – Halfback (Counties Manukau)
Toni Pulu – Winger (Counties Manukau)
Brodie Retallick – Lock (Bay of Plenty-Hawke’s Bay)
Tom Sanders – Loose forward (Canterbury) *
Teleni Seu – Loose forward (Auckland)*
Shaun Stevenson – Outside back (Waikato)*
Seta Tamanivalu – Midfield back (Taranaki)
Chase Tiatia – Outside back (Bay of Plenty)*
Siate Tokolahi – Prop (Canterbury)
James Tucker – Lock (Waikato)*
Maama Vaipulu – Loose forward (Counties Manukau)
Latu Vaeno – Winger (Taranaki)*
Sam Vaka – Midfield back (Counties Manukau)*
Brad Weber – Halfback (Waikato-Hawke’s Bay)
Sonny Bill Williams – Midfield (Counties Manukau)
Austin Manning – Supersub (Bay of Plenty) ***

*Super Rugby debut

** Gallagher Chiefs debut
***Special team member

Chiefs set to field bulky front row in 2016

The Chiefs continue their big signings during Super Rugby offseason, snapping up New Zealand U-20’s captain Atu Moli for two years.

Credit: Stuff NZ via Google Images

Moli will prove to be a bigger signing for the Chiefs than a lot of fans will realize and completes what will be a massive front row in 2016.

With the departure of Ben Tamiefuna to France, Moli joins Nepo Laulala to add massive bulk to the Chiefs front row. Not only does Moli bring considerable size, his credentials are already worthy of a player who can make an impact in Super Rugby.

Moli captained the New Zealand U-20’s to a World Championship this year and has impressed early in ITM Cup with Waikato.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie says that Moli has a big future ahead of him and has worked well in the clubs development squad.

“His work ethic and desire to develop his game is impressive and we have got to know him quite well over the past couple of seasons,” Rennie said.

Other big signings for the Chiefs in offseason include Dominic Bird, Warriors league star Glen Fisiiahi, and Crusaders prop Nepo Laulala

No Super Rugby for Liam Messam and SBW

Liam Messam and Sonny Bill Williams have been named in the 2015/16 All Black Sevens squad – and will not play in Super Rugby next year.

SBW and Liam Messam. Credit: Zimbio

From a Sevens standpoint, the inclusion of Sonny Bill Williams in particular seems to have been  certainty for a while now, but Messam hadn’t revealed what his plans for next year until today’s announcement.

The two Chiefs superstars will be available for all Sevens World Series events beginning later this year.

New Zealand Rugby confirmed Williams and Messam are ruled out of playing Super Rugby, and as such, would be highly unlikely to represent the All Blacks.

Messam made his career in Sevens for New Zealand and his inclusion will be valuable despite lack of sevens game time in the last few years.

All Black Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens says Sonny Bill Williams will adjust well to the environment, hinting that the midfielder’s sensational ability to offload will be a good weapon during the World Series and beyond.

Messam and Williams are the only two Super Rugby players in the squad who will not play a single game for their franchise next season, others will only miss a handful of games.

Rugby Sevens will feature at the Olympic Games for the first time next year in Rio.