CHIEFS

NZ Rugby World - - Super 18 -

RE­CRUIT­MENT BAL­ANCE

They lost a few good play­ers but the main rea­son they lost them was be­cause they were at the back of a long queue in their re­spec­tive po­si­tions. So it looks bad that Pulu left, but then how much would he play in a squad that has Taw­era Kerr-Bar­low and Brad We­ber? They would have liked to have kept Wil­liams and Ta­mani­valu but they have Char­lie Ngatai and An­ton Lienert-Brown. So they might not have the same depth but they aren’t greatly dam­aged by the per­son­nel losses they have su ered.

WHAT CAN WE EX­PECT TAC­TI­CALLY?

They will look to play like they did for the first 10 weeks of 2016. They were al­most un­touch­able then, play­ing with con­fi­dence to throw the ball out of the tackle. Some of their con­ti­nu­ity play was bril­liant and their cre­ative pass­ing at a di er­ent level. When they gen­er­ated pace and width, they looked like cham­pi­ons.

GUT FEEL – RIS­ERS OR FALL­ERS?

Nei­ther re­ally but if pushed into hav­ing to com­mit, prob­a­bly ris­ers. How so? They have largely the same squad as last year and be­cause this is Dave Ren­nie’s last sea­son as coach, the play­ers will want to say sorry for let­ting him down with the whole Strip­per­gate thing.

WHERE WILL THEY FIN­ISH?

Okay, we said last year that we thought they were go­ing to be cham­pi­ons. They couldn’t nail the num­ber one qual­i­fy­ing spot on the last day and ul­ti­mately paid the price when they had to travel to South Africa for the quar­ter­fi­nal, which drained them for the semi. Still think they are the most balanced squad who have the right play­ers in the key po­si­tions to go all the way.

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