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Chiefs

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Hosea Gear

Hosea Gear

Aaron Cruden

Aaron Cruden

Liam Messam

Liam Messam

The Chiefs have injected some All Black experience for the Round 2 match against the Brumbies on Friday.

All Blacks Liam Messam and Aaron Cruden come into the starting team, as does former international Hosea Gear.

Current New Zealand and World Rugby Player of the Year, Brodie Retallick, will make his 1st appearance of the season from the bench.

In total, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made 6 changes to the starting side originally named to face the Blues last week.

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ChiefsThe Chiefs have announced their team to play the Blues on Saturday night in their first Super Rugby match for 2015.

The match that will be played at QBE Stadium has caused the Chiefs coaches selection challenges.

“There has been some difficult decisions with a lot of competition for places. We’re rapt with the side we have picked but realise it will be a big challenge at North Harbour,” said head coach Dave Rennie.

In the front row Hika Elliot makes his return to Super Rugby and is joined by props Pauliasi Manu and Ben Tameifuna.

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Dave Rennie

Dave Rennie

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has extended his contract with the dual Super Rugby champions for another 2 years.

Rennie led the Chiefs to back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013 as well as the Finals Series in 2014, where they fell to the Brumbies.

In addition to 7 new Chiefs making the All Blacks and another 2 earning re-calls, Rennie has introduced 39 new players to a Chiefs jersey.

Before joining the Chiefs he was Head Coach of the Manawatu NPC side. As the New Zealand Under 20 Coach, his side won 3 consecutive World Championship titles from 2008-2010. He also coached Wellington from 1999 – 2002 winning the NPC in 2000. In his playing days he played 59 games as a midfield back for the Wellington Lions from 1986.

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Tim Nanai-Williams

Tim Nanai-Williams

Versatile Chiefs back Tim Nanai-Williams, while pushing for qualification to play for Samoa, could be forced to choose club over country.

The 25-year-old is pursuing a loophole through the international Sevens circuit that will allow him to play for Samoa at the World Cup later this year because his parents were born in the islands.

If his Chiefs team make a deep run in the Super Rugby play-offs however, he will miss the historic test match between the All Blacks and Samoa in Apia this July.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made it clear that Nanai-Williams will be putting his franchise first in the event of a clash as they will still be in the Super Rugby window.

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Tom Coventry

Tom Coventry

New Zealander Tom Coventry has been appointed as the new head coach of London Irish for the 2015 / 2016 season, the English Premiership strugglers announced on Wednesday.

The 48-year-old, who is currently assistant coach of New Zealand team the Chiefs, will succeed former director of rugby Brian Smith, who has been released early from his contract on compassionate grounds.

“The owners have a clear vision of where they want to take the club,” Coventry told the London Irish website.

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Super RugbyWith Super Rugby fast approaching it is important to have a look at what each of the teams are doing in their preparations and who they have at their disposal.

As the teams prepare for this brusing competition there is the oppourtunity to test out combanations as well as see how the new boys go.

The Sharks will travel to French champions Toloun to test out their game plan against the Galacticos of rugby while the Bulls will take on the Cheetahs in a traditional pre-season match in Polokwane.

The Australasian sides will also warm up against each other with the Highlanders setting up a comprehensive pre-season schedule due to the first round bye.

The ‘transfer market’ has made the upcoming Super Rugby season an exciting prospect with some big names in James O’Connor and Nick Cummins returning to Australia.

Menawhile, the Bulls have bolstered their squad with some excellent former Cheetahs players.

Finally, and unsurprizingly, Ma’a Nonu has made another move – this time back to the Hurricanes.

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Damian McKenzie

Damian McKenzie

New Zealand Under 20 star Damian Mckenzie will have to battle it out with his brother Marty for a spot at flyhalf for the Chiefs next year.

The 19-year-old flyhalf has a big future in the game, after showing hints of his sparkling ability with the New Zealand Under 20’s and Waikato’s NPC side this year.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has had his eye on McKenzie for years now, and is looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the team.

He will start third or fourth in the pecking order for the flyhalf position at the Chiefs, behind All Black Aaron Cruden, brother Marty McKenzie, and in a tie with Andrew Horrell.

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Super Rugby

Some news titbits from all over, in preparation for the 2015 Super Rugby season.

  • Willie Brits, the popular lion-looking Xerox Lion, has made his move back to the Toyota Cheetahs for 2015.
  • Ben Afeaki, Chiefs prop, who has ongoing concussion problems will have to decide his future and consider possible retirement.
  • The Force will celebrate its 10th Super Rugby season by returning one of the club’s favourite sons, Tai McIsaac, to its coaching staff for the next three years.
  • South African-born lock Marco Kotze has become the 11th Queensland-based National Rugby Championship player to be contracted by the Reds.

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Super RugbyIn preparation for Super Rugby in 2015, all 5 New Zealand Super Rugby franchises have named their squads for the tournament.

In the meantime, South African franchises will ponder about their squads and in December we at Rugby-Talk.com will speculate what the South African franchises will look like, as final squads will only be known in January 2015.

The same happens every year, New Zealand and Australia get their ducks in a row before the December break, whereas the South Africans seem to focus on December holidays, going to the beach, having Christmas and generally geting fat and lazy.

When can we ever expect the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and the South African Super Rugby franchises to ever catch up to the more professional attitudes displayed primarily by New Zealand… but also closely followed by their Antipodion counterparts, Australia?

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Ben Tameifuna

Ben Tameifuna

Auckland-born Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna is set to end his bid to play for the All Blacks after he was selected to represent Tonga, New Zealand media reported on Wednesday.

The 140-kg tighthead, who is of Tongan heritage, had been on the fringes of All Blacks selection for some time and even earned a call up to New Zealand’s training squad last year.

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Siate Tokolahi

Siate Tokolahi

Hamilton based Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs have strengthened their squad for the 2015 season with the signings of two new forwards.

Prop Siate Tokolahi from Canterbury has signed with the Chiefs for the next two seasons and Hawke’s Bay lock Michael Allardice has signed for the 2015 season.

Tongan born, 22-year-old Tokolahi is an immensely strong player and can play both sides of the scrum.

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Brodie Retallick

SUPER MAN: Humble 23-year-old Brodie Retallick turns into a super-powered lock when he pulls on the All Blacks jersey.

Brodie Retallick is forging a reputation as one of the best locks in world rugby. Toby Robson got to know the 2.04-metre 23-year-old with his head in the clouds but his feet firmly on the ground.

Brodie Retallick has been working things out from the start.

As a youngster he and his two brothers, Logan and Brook, would crowd around their father Glen as he worked on their motorbikes.

Long days spent riding around the family’s 5-acre block in Broomfield or towing each other on sleds took their toll on the machinery.

It wasn’t long before the Retallick boys were fixing things themselves. Mum Jo’s boys were the hands-on types, out playing rugby in the yard rather than parked in front of the television.

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Hosea Gear

Hosea Gear

Former All Blacks wing Hosea Gear is quitting northern hemisphere rugby and heading to the Chiefs in a bid to play in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Gear, 30, has signed a one-year contract with the Chiefs to play in next year’s Super Rugby competition as he makes a bid to return to the international stage and challenges again for a World Cup wing spot.

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Gareth Anscombe

Gareth Anscombe

Outgoing Chiefs and Auckland utility back Gareth Anscombe said that he decided to switch his allegiance from New Zealand to Wales after realising he had little hope of making the All Blacks.

Anscombe, 23, who has signed to play for the Cardiff Blues, said he spoke with All Black coach Steve Hansen earlier this year and found he was well down the pecking order in his favoured position of flyhalf.

“There was a lot of factors, but I mean, there’s a lot of classy No 10’s that are floating around in New Zealand right now and they’re all pretty young as well,” he said.

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Gareth Anscombe

Gareth Anscombe

Welsh club Cardiff Blues have announced the signing of Gareth Anscombe from Super Rugby side, the Chiefs.

Anscombe, who can play flyhalf or fullback, will make the move to Cardiff Arms Park later this year and join the exciting new-look squad under the guidance of new Director of Rugby Mark Hammett, Cardiff wrote on their official website.

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight, who was deemed “not good enough” for the Chiefs, is proving all wrong

Brumbies excitement machine Henry Speight didn’t just leave the Chiefs lamenting a qualifying finals loss.

He left their coach Dave Rennie ruing the one “that got away” after his side’s dream of a Super Rugby three-peat came to a crashing end at Canberra Stadium.

And the Chiefs only have themselves to blame.

That’s because Speight not only played for Hamilton Boys High School, but went on to represent the Waikato provincial team – the Chiefs’ feeder club.

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Ben Mowen

Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen in action

BrumbiesACT Brumbies captain Ben Mowen has lauded the club’s courageous Super Rugby finals win against the Waikato Chiefs as the best performance of the past three years.

But Mowen, the most-capped skipper in Brumbies history, insists the ACT side can improve on its epic eight-try win which ended the Chiefs’ two-year reign as Super Rugby champions.

The Brumbies held on for a cliffhanger 32-30 triumph at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night, setting up a likely week-two finals clash against arch rivals the NSW Waratahs next weekend.

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Rod Macqueen

For the Brumbies to win, they need to play “Macqueenball”

They say in sports you have to lose a grand final before you win one. That is the prospect, anyway, facing the ACT Brumbies as they go into a successive Super Rugby finals campaign on Saturday night.

The team they play, the Chiefs, defeated them in the 2013 grand final at Hamilton. It took the All Blacks 24 years to understand that finals rugby is an entirely different ball game from pool-round rugby. After the All Blacks lost in the quarter-finals to France in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, the coaching staff did some deep thinking into how to play finals rugby.

What they discovered is that they needed to have total clarity on how to play each specific final. And they had to have contingency plans for coping with unforeseeable events. The best contingency plan is to score enough points before trouble arrives, as it did for the Brumbies in the last 20 minutes of their final against the Chiefs.

Where the Brumbies need clarity in their qualifying final is knowing whether to play “Jakeball” or “Macqueenball”.

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New Zealand Conference
For those who might have watched the episode of Boots & All on Thursday 17 July, you might have heard John Mitchell refer to an article he read surrounding the New Zealand teams and conference.

Rugby-Talk exclusively brings you the article in question, and we must agree with John, it does make for some interesting reading.

Just how level are the current playing fields in Super Rugby, if all sides don’t face the same opposition, and what are the possible consequences thereof on the final standings?

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Liam Messam

Go-to man, Liam Messam

Coming out of the international break, the Brumbies were three points adrift of the Waratahs and strong contenders for the Australian conference crown.

Then the two teams met in Sydney… and the home side absolutely spanked their neighbours. It was 39-8, and probably not even that close.

We know what happened next – the Waratahs went on to clinch top spot while the Brumbies bounced back with a big win over the Force to set a playoff date with the Chiefs.

If the Kiwi wildcards wish to beat their Australian equivalent in Canberra tomorrow night and advance to the Super Rugby semifinals, the champs would be wise to steal a page from the Waratahs’ gameplan, as Dave Rennie explained.

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Super RugbyIt is the Play-Off Round of Super Rugby 2014 this weekend! We have only the 2 Play-Off games in this Round, as all teams below Log position 6 has now been dispatched and the Top 2 teams have a nice rest weekend, with both games on Saturday.

This is the final crunch to sort the men from the boys, to sort the teams going forward into the Semi-Finals.

The Waratahs and Crusaders sit comfortably at the Top of the table and the Brumbies, Chiefs, Cell C Sharks and Highlanders compete in this Round.

It is winners take all in these Play-Off games, the losers joing the other 9 Teams who have already been dispatched to also-ran’s.

Bonus points for tries and losses within 7 now does not matter anymore, all that is needed is a win.

Let the games continue….

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BrumbiesThe Super Rugby Qualifying Rounds kick off in Canberra on Saturday morning SA time when the ACT Brumbies hosts the current champions, the Chiefs.  The Brumbies ended 4th on the combined Super Rugby log and the Chiefs 5th.

Robbie Coleman returns to the Brumbies starting side on Saturday when his team takes on the Chiefs in their Super Rugby Qualifier at GIO Stadium. Coleman’s elevation to the starting side shifts Clyde Rathbone out of the matchday 23, with rookie prop Allan Alaalatoa’s inclusion on the bench the only other change to last week’s squad.

With seven tries to his name in 2014, Coleman leads the Brumbies try-scoring tally alongside his fellow-back-three member, Jesse Mogg. It’s been a big season for the Brumbies outside backs, with Henry Speight, Joe Tomane, Pat McCabe, Mogg and Coleman combining for a total of 22 five-pointers.

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Jessie Mogg

Jessie Mogg has regained his starting role for the Brumbies after being dropped earlier this season

Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg is using his Super Rugby axing to reignite his passion, admitting he took his position in the team for granted after being the first-choice No.15 for more than two years.

Mogg was benched for the Brumbies’ clash against the Melbourne Rebels in June, with coach Stephen Larkham opting to promote Wallabies warrior Pat McCabe to the starting XV.

But Mogg has regained his fullback jersey after McCabe was injured while on Wallabies duty, and the Wests speedster says being dropped was the wake-up call he needed to help the Brumbies’ charge to the championship.

“It was about me turning things around and working a little bit harder,” he said. “I’ve come back and played solid over the last two weeks, I’ll look to build on that into the finals series.”

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Gareth Anscombe

Chiefs playmaker Gareth Anscombe is rumoured to join Cardiff Blues

Chiefs playmaker Gareth Anscombe is poised to leave New Zealand to take up a contract in Wales with the Cardiff Blues.

Rumours that the 23-year-old would move to Wales, for whom he qualifies through his Cardiff-born mother, have been circulating since April.

The move now looks certain following reports that he had thanked colleagues and supporters at a Chiefs dinner in Hamilton ahead of his departure. Anscombe, who can play both fly-half and full-back, is expected to join the Pro12 side – where he will link up with former Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett – as soon as he has completed his commitments with the Chiefs, who play the Brumbies in Saturday’s Super Rugby play-off in Canberra.

The son of ex-Ulster boss Mark Anscombe, the player has already met with Wales’ Kiwi coach Warren Gatland and reports in the Welsh press suggest he could be fast-tracked into the national setup in time for the November Tests. Although he has signed with Auckland for the NPC, Anscombe is understood to have an out-clause allowing him to go to Wales.

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BrumbiesChiefsThe Brumbies are determined to avoid getting into a ‘brutal arm-wrestle’ with the two-time defending champion Chiefs.

The two sides meet in Canberra on Saturday in the first match of the 2014 Super Rugby play-offs, a preliminary qualifier.

Having found some late-season form – with victories over the Blues (11-8 this past weekend) and Hurricanes (24-16 the week before) – the Chiefs muscled their way from ninth to fifth on the table in the past fortnight.

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Steve Walsh

Steve Walsh

Sanzar has announced that South Africa’s Craig Joubert and Steve Walsh from Australia will referee the two Vodacom Super Rugby Qualifiers this weekend.

Joubert will be the man in the middle in Canberra, where the Brumbies host the Chiefs, while Walsh will be in action in Durban in the second Qualifier between the Cell C Sharks and the Highlanders.

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imageThe Brumbies will have a chance to avenge their defeat in the Super Rugby Final last year when they face defending champions Chiefs next week.

Under the stewardship of current Sharks coach Jake White, the Brumbies went down in Hamilton to fall short of claiming their third Super Rugby title last year.

Now under the guidance of former Wallabies flyhalf and Brumbies legend Stephen Larkham, the Canberra side comes into the match with a fair maount of confidence given their convincing win over the Force in the last round.

Ben Mowen will become the Brumbies’ most-capped skipper in what might also be his final game for the franchise given that he is heading to France to play for Montpellier.

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Special EditionSuper RugbyLike every fine season of Super Rugby, all is not revealed until the final weekend of the regular season, and the 2014 campaign, and 19th tournament overall of the Southern Hemisphere’s premier provincial competition, will be no different.

However congratulations must be offered to the Waratahs, who offered one piece of clarity over the weekend with their 44-16 win over the Highlanders.

With that, the Waratahs has for the first time qualified as the top-ranked team after the regular season, and become the ninth franchise in history to finish as ‘minor premiers’.

For coach Michael Cheika and his troops, this will be a significant fact even though he was quick to remind all who would listen that the Super Rugby Finals Series would be another step up for a team that looks the goods.

However, as Cheika correctly pointed out, there will be teams with more experience at this stage of the season and this is a crucial factor for potential champions.

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Bundee Aki

Bundee Aki

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made only one change to his starting line-up for Friday’s Super Rugby crunch encounter with the Blues in Auckland.

The change is injury enforced – with Bundee Aki starting at inside centre in place of Charlie Ngatai, who left the field late in the 24-16 win over the Hurricanes last week.

He has failed to recover from the shoulder injury that forced him off the field.

There are two changes to the replacement bench.

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Ben Tameifuna

Ben Tameifuna

The Chiefs have confirmed that Ben Tameifuna has put pen to paper on a one-year contract extension to keep him at the dual Super Rugby champions.

The strong scrummager and crowd favourite said his decision to stay was simple.

“I am a Chief by choice.”

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