There was an end of an era feel for the Chiefs last year with Dave Rennie, Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and James Lowe all leaving. The Chiefs, as always, have done some smart business to cover those losses – most notably picking up Canadian loose forward Tyler Ardron – but the collective experience and talent of the group they have lost can’t be easily replaced.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TACTICALLY?
We might see the Chiefs use their pack more directly this year – carry more closer to the fringes and some extended pick and go. With Damian McKenzie expected to shift to No 10 there will be more emphasis on working around the first receiver and using the skills of Anton Lienert-Brown and Charlie Ngatai to bust holes in the midfield.
GUT FEEL – RISERS OR FALLERS?
There are plenty of reasons to believe that the Chiefs with a new coach and a new play-making team may not be as good this year. But we have a feeling they are going to be stronger – the front five has real crunch and Sam Cane is developing superbly as a leader and with McKenzie at No 10, they could be sensational.
WHERE WILL THEY FINISH?
We like the way the Chiefs are set up and see the potential. We really do. There are international heavyweights throughout the side, a smart coaching team and enough experience to see them as champions.
But we don’t feel they are going to find the last little piece of the jigsaw to go from soclose to champions.