Chiefs not being helped by injuries


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Chiefs coach Ian Foster has described recent times for him and his team in South Africa as a nightmare.

Not only have they struggled to come to terms with the prospect of another season out of the Super 14 rugby playoffs after their second successive defeat to lowly-placed teams on tour but also they have lost prop Ben May who was suspended.

“We’ve had a nightmare in the last 24 hours trying to figure it all out,” Foster said in the Waikato Times.

Three players have been ruled out of the final match against the Sharks in Durban this week due to injury, another three are in doubt and four players are already flying to South Africa to join the squad with the prospect of more heading over on the next available flight on Wednesday.

Returning early are props Simms Davison (back) and Simon Lemalu (knee) plus centre Richard Kahui, whose ankle has failed to respond quickly enough to treatment.

They are being replaced by Nathan White, who played his first game of rugby for his Te Awamutu Sports club on Saturday after returning from back surgery, wider training group hooker John Pareanga and squad member Murray Williams respectively.

A positive for the team is that halfback Brendon Leonard will rejoin the team as he is now fit again and replaces David Bason.

“We’re still assessing over the next 48 hours Sione Lauaki with his hamstring, Sitiveni Sivivatu with his ankle and Steve Donald with his neck, which is extremely sore and in a brace.

“So that could require further replacements but we will probably make that decision in 48 hours,” Foster said.

X-rays found no fractures in Sivivatu or Donald but their injuries are both causing a lot of swelling and pain.
“It’s a pretty unique situation where we could have up to six or seven players after that game who could be down and out.”

Because of the injury toll and the judicial hearing for May Foster said they had had little time to analyse their 33-27 loss to the bottom-placed Lions in Johannesburg yesterday.

“We gifted them a couple of tries in the first half but it was a bad game to get hit firstly with a red card, particularly when we were scoring a try in the corner. We could have gone to 27-20 and momentum was swinging so that was a pretty significant issue.

“And I think losing Siti and Sione on top of Richard (Kahui), Brendon (Leonard) and Tom (Willis) probably didn’t help us at all. It probably exposed us with our decision making and we weren’t good enough in that area.”

While a number of forwards had carried a heavy load, particularly locks Toby Lynn and Kevin O’Neill, the problem had not necessarily been in the forwards.

“We played a very physical Lions team, we didn’t really get what we wanted around the field and I don’t think you can put all that down to the forwards. We probably still tried to rush our game.”

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