Chiefs face test of character against Waratahs
May 26, 2014
The Chiefs were consigned to the role of spectators in Wellington © Getty Images
Dave Rennie has flagged changes to the Chiefs line-up when they face New South Wales Waratahs in New Plymouth after finishing "a distant third" to the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday night.
The Chiefs slipped out of the finals positions on the ladder after their 45-8 defeat in the capital, but they still hold their fate in their own hands given their remaining matches of the regular season after the Waratahs fixture are New Zealand derbies against the Highlanders (away) and Hurricanes (home).
''It was an absolute bath in the end but we've been here before,'' Rennie said of the six-tries-to-one defeat at Westpac Stadium, noting they recovered from a 43-15 away loss to the Crusaders last year to beat the Blues away in their last regular-season match to top the standings and claim home-ground advantage through the finals.
''It will be how we bounce back that will be the test of the character of this group.''
''We came up against a side that were obviously desperate and far more desperate than we were, so that's disappointing. 'The frustrating thing is we created a lot of opportunities, built a bit of pressure and had chances where we should have scored, but we weren't accurate enough and clinical enough. 'But they scrambled really well and of course we made some errors that they went the length of the field from. They're pretty potent in that area, which we were well aware of."
Rennie said he would analyse the preparation for the Hurricanes game to establish if the absence of key players at the All Blacks wider training camp for two days had a negative effect. He has players absent again this week at the second training camp in Wellington.
''There will be some lessons learned from it and we've got to do some of the little things a lot better," he said. ''But so much about our game is mental and we were certainly very flat. We got outmuscled and out-passioned and they were clinical and we weren't, which is why the scoreline read the way it did.
Hurricanes 45-8 Chiefs (Australia 0nly)
''It was a hell of a shellacking … but we're a pretty determined bunch so I guess our job now is to turn things around quickly."
Aaron Cruden, one of the players absent last week on All Black duty, is likely to be one of changes to the starting XV after returning to action via the bench against the Hurricanes after recovering from his broken left thumb. He is confident that another stint away with the All Blacks won't prevent him from returning to his regular role next weekend.
"I was just glad I managed to get back out on the paddock," he said. "The thumb's feeling strong and I think I'll be better for the run."[My fitness] is not too bad. With the thumb injury I was still able to do a bit of running. I had about six or seven weeks off but I was still able to get a bit of fitness and conditioning into me.
"It would've been great to get a start this week but, being away with the All Blacks, it probably wasn't ideal. I know we're going to be away for a couple of days again but I'm really excited about the opportunity to hopefully get back in that 10 jersey next week."
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