SBW cre­ates late gap

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - By EVAN PEG­DEN

The Chiefs have just two more po­si­tions to fill in their 2014 squad but one might have caught them by sur­prise.

The de­ci­sion by Sonny Bill Wil­liams not to re­turn to the Chiefs next sea­son has left them short of a mid­field back just 10 days be­fore the dead­line for New Zealand Su­per Rugby squads need to be fi­nalised.

The an­nounce­ment that the Chiefs had re-signed two fa­mil­iar faces for their for­ward pack left just a third half­back and Wil­liams to com­plete their squad.

But then the an­nounce­ment that Wil­liams had turned down the Chiefs and New Zealand Rugby Union for 2014 and was stay­ing with the Syd­ney Roost­ers in the NRL meant the Chiefs sud­denly had to hunt out another mid­field back or go with 31 play­ers.

While Chiefs head coach Dave Ren­nie has al­ways main­tained con­fi­dence the fran­chise would have Wil­liams back in 2015 but were un­sure about 2014, it ap­pears they were con­fi­dent of get­ting him back for next sea­son, which would have given him time to es­tab­lish him­self as an All Blacks starter Rugby World Cup.

Now the Chiefs, af­ter Ren­nie and Wayne Smith, along with New Zealand Rugby Union gen­eral man­ager pro­fes­sional Neil Soren­son, made a fly­ing but un­suc­cess­ful visit to Syd­ney on Thurs­day to try to con­vince SBW to sign on the dot­ted line, have to go to plan B.

The back-to-back Su­per Rugby cham­pi­ons have re-signed for­mer Chiefs No8/ lock Kane Thomp­son and Wellington lock Ross Filipo for one sea­son.

Thomp­son, 31, re­turns to the Chiefs af­ter a sea­son in Ja­pan with the Canon Ea­gles, while Filipo ex­tends his time with the Chiefs hav­ing been with the side for the first time last sea­son.

Ren­nie said he ap­pre­ci­ated the ex­pe­ri­ence the 1.98m Su­per Rugby-win­ning duo would of­fer his side.

‘‘Both of th­ese play­ers are good men and qual­ity play­ers who have in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence,’’ said Ren­nie. ‘‘We have had a lot of Chiefs’ caps head over­seas, so their ex­pe­ri­ence will be in­valu­able.’’

Filipo is look­ing for­ward to another sea­son with the cur­rent cham­pi­ons.

for

the 2015

The 114kg lock has played four tests and one other game for the All Blacks and has been part of the Maori All Blacks since 2005. Filipo, who was trou­bled by in­juries this year, played just two matches for the Chiefs, but has pre­vi­ously played 45 for the Cru­saders and 60 for Wellington.

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