July 17, 2020

Gallagher Chiefs energised for Highlanders encounter

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Fresh off a bye and keen to put on a clinic in the second half of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa, the Gallagher Chiefs will be a dangerous outfit when they host the Highlanders in Hamilton on Sunday afternoon.

The Gallagher Chiefs are 0-and-four in the competition and are out of title contention, but that certainly hasn’t hampered their determination and passion to win.

Gallagher Chiefs attack coach Roger Randle said their winless record to date is only providing motivation for the players.

“I think we are fortunate with the senior players we have with Aaron Cruden, Anton Lienert-Brown and Sam [Cane]. The guys love this team, there’s immense passion for this team and so they are really good. They have come in and everybody is enthused.

“But it’s genuine. It’s not candyfloss, yahooing, it’s actually genuine care and love and knowing that we can turn this around if we make a couple of adjustments.”

Lienert-Brown is back in contention for selection, having missed the game against the Hurricanes with concussion and Mitchell Karpik is also available. Young lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi is recovering well from a nasty head knock against the Hurricanes, and while he won’t play this weekend, Randle said he’s got his cheeky humour going again and is doing well.

The Gallagher Chiefs have only scored four tries and a penalty try in four games of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa. The low numbers don’t reflect the Gallagher Chiefs style, but Randle admits it’s happening to other teams in the competition as well.

“We’ve had a couple of wet games and I think the Crusaders, who have pretty good attack didn’t score until the 56th minute last week, when someone made an error on the edge. The Highlanders scored off a lineout drive last week, and I think Tony Brown goes alright as an attack coach.

“We all get together and have a beer afterwards and defence coaches are licking their lips cause it’s July, she’s pretty wet and there’s a lot of defenders on the body at the moment. So that’s the challenges for us as attack coaches and how we harness that, and we can find ways of breaking that down.”

The Highlanders confirmed on Wednesday that Josh Ioane is back training and available for selection this weekend. Randle is guessing Bryn Gatland will be in the mix as well.

“Hopefully, he doesn’t come off the bench and do what he did last time.”

The Gallagher Chiefs host the Highlanders at FMG Stadium Waikato on Sunday at 3:35pm.

100% of proceeds from every Fan Zone child ticket will go towards providing beds and bedding for disadvantaged Kiwi kids through Variety – the Children’s Charity. The Chiefs are aiming to provide 50 beds including bedding, so by taking your kids along to the match on Sunday, you’ll also be helping kids who are sleeping on the floor this winter.

Gallagher Chiefs energised for Highlanders encounter