Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Rugby: Chiefs may visit Fiji annually

Add a comment
Chiefs winger James Lowe takes on the Crusaders' defence in Suva last Friday. Photo / Getty Images
Chiefs winger James Lowe takes on the Crusaders' defence in Suva last Friday. Photo / Getty Images

The brave decision by the Chiefs hierarchy to play their home fixture against the Crusaders in Suva last Friday paid a full dividend.

Not only did the Chiefs beat the Crusaders, who came back to Christchurch with nothing but duty free moisturiser to show for their efforts, but they set in motion plans to take an annual match to Fiji.

The Chiefs revelled in the chance to enjoy the Fijian culture and spend time with kids at local villages, which star winger James Lowe says was an undoubted highlight.

"Fiji is a country that really, really enjoys their rugby. Simply going to a school and seeing the kids screaming to see the boys like Seta (Tamanivalu) and our All Blacks was amazing," Lowe said.

"It was the first time I have ever been to a stadium and it was full before we got there. It was crazy. The response we had there was awesome."

The 23-13 victory over the Crusaders saw the Chiefs go past their rivals to lead the New Zealand Conference with two matches left before the playoffs begin.

"Everyone knows those New Zealand derbies are the ones you need to win and fortunately we were able to come away with four points," Lowe said.

"It was huge, particularly in terms of momentum leading into these next two games and hopefully a quarter-final.

"I guess we have the ball rolling and hopefully we can carry that on against the Reds."

In theory, beating the Queensland Reds in Brisbane tomorrow night looks a formality for the Chiefs.

But the beautiful thing about sport is its sheer unpredictability.

Lowe says the Chiefs are definitely not taking it as a foregone conclusion they will win.

"It is so easy to get up against the Crusaders being a derby match and a lot of rivalry between us.

"The Reds are a very athletic team with some really good game players with a big midfield and exciting backline. Their set piece is pretty good, to be fair, so we have to make sure we do not take them too lightly and we get the job done."

The June international break was a bittersweet time for the likeable Lowe, who is an ambassador for Arthritis New Zealand.

The 23-year-old from Nelson had time to get over niggling injuries, particularly a long-term shoulder problem, and was part of the historic victory by the Chiefs over Wales.

But he was disappointed not to get selected in the All Blacks squad for the three internationals against Wales.

"I guess it was a wee bit of a disappointment not to make the side but all you can do is just keep putting your hand up and hopefully one day you will get picked.

"That is my mindset towards it at the moment.

"The win over Wales is something in 30 years' time we will still be talking about.

"To be part of that Chiefs team that won the first international in quite a convincing way was awesome," Lowe said.

Gallagher Chiefs v Queensland Reds

When: 9.40pm, tomorrow night
Where: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Team: 1. Kane Hames (5), 2. Nathan Harris (19), 3. Atu Moli (7), 4. Dominic Bird (7), 5. Taleni Seu (14), 6. Tom Sanders (11), 7. Lachlan Boshier (4), 8. Sam Cane (78) co-captain, 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (63), 10. Aaron Cruden (69) co-captain, 11. James Lowe (33), 12. Anton Lienert-Brown (20), 13. Seta Tamanivalu (19), 14. Toni Pulu (9), 15. Damian McKenzie (29).

Reserves: 16. Hika Elliot (100), 17. Siegfried Fisi'ihoi (7), 18. Siate Tokolahi (27), 19. Mitchell Brown (2), 20. Liam Messam (144), 21. Brad Weber (38), 22. Andrew Horrell (54), 23. Sam McNicol (8).

( ) = Gallagher Chiefs caps in brackets

Not considered for selection: Nepo Laulala, Mitchell Karpik, Pauliasi Manu, Sam Henwood, Johan Bardoul, Glen Fisiiahi, Maama Vaipulu, Michael Allardice, Mitchell Graham, Michael Leitch, Chase Tiatia, Charlie Ngatai, Brodie Retallick, Augustine Pulu (All Blacks Sevens).

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 25 Sep 2016 18:42:47 Processing Time: 943ms