June 26, 2020

“We expect a response” – Gallagher Chiefs Forwards Coach Neil Barnes

The message is clear for the Gallagher Chiefs on Sunday. They must be better.

It’s been a less than ideal start to Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa for the Gallagher Chiefs, who are 0 and 2 to start the season.

Gallagher Chiefs forwards coach Neil Barnes said frank conversations were had on Monday after their loss to the Blues at home last weekend and they must improve against the Crusaders at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch on Sunday afternoon.

“We have pretty high expectations of ourselves, so we are annoyed. It’s not like you have to reinvent the wheel, but we are pretty annoyed off with ourselves for letting our opportunities go that we had.”

The usually exhilarating Gallagher Chiefs failed to score a try in their 24-12 loss to the Blues, albeit in terrible conditions, but Barnes admits they didn’t take their opportunities when they were on offer.

“We have had a reasonable amount of chances where we have got to the right place on the field and we have messed them up. So, it’s about us and our detail and all our games so far have been pretty tight. If you don’t nail those opportunities straight up, you come second.”

It’s the first home game of the season for the Crusaders and they certainly made the most of Hurricanes errors last weekend. Barnes and the Chiefs know they won’t get away with any mistakes on Sunday.

“It’s two fold. You can’t give them mistakes and if you’ve got an opportunity yourself, you’ve got to take it. It’s going to be that tight. We’re up for it and can’t wait.

“We have a massive amount of respect for them [Crusaders] they are a very good team, but we certainly don’t fear them. We just know that we have to be at our best. We are going to have to go really well.”

The Crusaders confirmed on Wednesday [NZT] that skipper Scott Barrett has been ruled out for the season with a foot injury and will require surgery. Both sides are named on Friday, and the Gallagher Chiefs are hoping they’ll be able to finally name captain Sam Cane in their side.

“Hopefully, he’ll play,” said Barnes about their skipper who has been out of action with a back strain.

“It’s one of those ones where we’ll see how he scrubs up after he’s done a full session. If he’s 100%, he’s likely to be in it, if he’s still a bit sore we won’t risk it.”

The Gallagher Chiefs are one of the sides in Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa who have struggled with their line outs early on in the season. Barnes is fairly confident his forwards will get back on track quickly.

“We’ve lost the bulk of them [line outs] ourselves, it’s been our own execution. So that makes it better for you as a coach because what we are doing is actually alright it’s about us getting our detail right inside.”

Injury has forced the Gallagher Chiefs to blood two young locks in Tupou Vaa’i and Naitoa Ah Kuoi. Both just 20 year-olds, Barnes has been delighted with how they have both gone so far at Super Rugby level.

“Very impressed in Tupou and Naitoa. They are our future, but they have had to step up massively without a lot of experience around them and I’m very proud of the way they’ve gone to be honest.”

The Gallagher Chiefs take on the Crusaders at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch on Sunday at 3:35pm.

“We expect a response” – Gallagher Chiefs Forwards Coach Neil Barnes