Injured Chiefs head for SA without Leonard



Super rugby AU : Standings | Fixtures | Super Rugby Aotearoa: Standings | Fixtures |


The Chiefs will head into their must win Super 14 match against the Lions in Johannesburg this weekend without the services of key backs Brendon Leonard and Richard Kahui but still confident that they can reach the play offs.

The Chiefs were knocked out of the top four on the weekend with a last minute kick by Matt Giteau who slotted an injury penalty. The result makes both of their last two matches must win affairs.

Speaking ahead of the Chiefs departure from Perth to South Africa yesterday head coach Ian Foster said there was no doubt they could turn around Saturday night’s 22-21 defeat and resume winning in the Republic.

Essentially a very poor first half cost the Chiefs the match and they went into half time 14-3 down and then took the lead with Callum Bruce dropped goal. At the death of the match they gave away a penalty and the rest is history.

“It’s frustrating but that’s what you get at this time of the year when teams out of the race are desperate for credibility and desperate to knock over a team that’s in the race,” Foster said in the Waikato Times.

“I think we saw that with the (second-placed) Waratahs and the (10th placed) Bulls, and certainly us and the Force. If we’re going to have a chance in this championship we’ve got to be good enough to deal with that.”

While the last placed Lions should be a less difficult encounter for the Chiefs their last match is against the Sharks in Durban where they are undefeated this year.

Foster said the problems the Chiefs had to address from the Force match, leading into their next match at Ellis Park against the bottom-placed Lions, were obvious.

“(Nathan) Sharpe dealt to our lineout and we’ve got to fix that up because we’ve got to get the ball and we’ve got to make sure we don’t try to force the game and rush things.

“In the first half I thought we were too lateral in our attack and perhaps became sitting ducks for them defensively.

“As a consequence we turned the ball over in the collision area a lot more than we have for the last six or seven weeks and we saw what happens when you do that.”

As if losing wasn’t enough of a blow the Chiefs also came away from the Force defeat with five new injuries, the most significant of those being the ankle injury suffered by centre Kahui as he unsuccessfully dived for the line just before halftime.

Halfback Jamie Nutbrown and second five Callum Bruce also hurt their ankles but luckily for the Chiefs Foster said they appeared to be minor injuries, while Kahui looked like he would be ruled out for the Lions game.

Lock Kevin O’Neill aggravated an elbow injury and prop Simms Davison hurt his back but both were also thought to be minor.

Whilst the injuries have mounted the Chiefs have not called for replacements and stuck with the same 26 players that they started with leaving halfback Leonard still in Hamilton recovering from his knee injury.

“We’ve been in constant communication with him and we will not be bringing him over for the Lions game because while he’s running pretty freely he’s not at the point where he can accelerate as well as we would like.”

Because of the tight situation on the points table that sees five points separating the third to seventh positions Foster said a narrow win against the Force might not have changed the scenario for the Chiefs for the last two weeks of the round-robin.

“Our focus has really been on the quality of our game and disappointment comes out of that because we didn’t achieve what we wanted to achieve.

“The Lions game for us is the same as it always was a very big game,” he said.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.