Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Loe: Coaches prepared for crisis

The Chiefs never gave up. Photo / Getty Images
The Chiefs never gave up. Photo / Getty Images

The Chiefs had injury dramas before they played the Crusaders, now they have even more but frankly, I doubt whether it will slow them down much.

Firstly, credit to the players for the way they defended on Friday night. It was an incredible effort: they just didn't break - well they did a bit physically - but not mentally. Their defence was impeccable.

It's the coaches that I feel have to take most of the praise though. Whatever that coaching group is instilling in the squad - it's working. The new boys come in and they get it quickly. The Chiefs never gave up and other than the occasion when Sam Whitelock slipped through, they held on and held up.

They also showed some glimpses with the ball that there is something more to come. Who will be fit to face the Highlanders this week is the big unknown. Kane Thompson came off early as did Mils Muliaina, while Brodie Retallick and Ben Afeaki failed concussion tests and Tevita Koloamatangi looked in bother with a knee.

That's a lot of good talent to lose but the coaches have shown themselves to be resourceful in dealing with these sorts of crises in the past, and I'd suggest they will do so again.

As for the Crusaders, having said they wanted to start well, they will be disappointed to have taken nothing from their first home outing with a tough trip to Eden Park on Friday night.

There were a couple of things I didn't understand: why did they leave Tyler Bleyendaal on the field for so long? How many misses before he was a shattered person for the rest of the season? I was delighted when coach Todd Blackadder said he was going to pick his team for the opening game of the season on form. I can only imagine that Bleyendaal's goal-kicking in the preseason was superb.

The Chiefs never gave up. Photo / Getty Images
The Chiefs never gave up. Photo / Getty Images

Tom Taylor is Mr Reliable, he kicks his goals - I know he missed two on Friday - and he seems to get better the more he plays. I think he will come into the starting side to play the Blues and with Kieran Read back at No8, they should deliver a better performance.

The second thing I didn't understand was the decision to take Tim Perry off at halftime - unless that was injury-related. I thought he had an outstanding half and had earned the right to stay out there.

- Herald on Sunday

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Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Wyllie Loe was a renowned All Black forward prop who plied his trade for the New Zealand national team between 1987 and 1995. Loe was well known by fans and team mates alike as an ‘enforcer’ on the pitch, a player who balanced his abilities with the ball with a tough-tackling prowess and a penchant for physicality. During an outstanding career Richard Loe represented his country of birth in no less than three World Cups, assisting the All Blacks to a famous victory in 1987. Along with fellow team mate and captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Loe formed one of the most formidable forward lines ever to lead the All Blacks. Despite his sometimes overly physical dominance on the pitch, Loe is regarded by former team mates as being an exceptional character and professional. Following retirement from rugby Loe became a sport columnist for the New Zealand Herald, a position he still holds today.

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