Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Aki gets the green light for Chiefs

Chiefs midfielder Bundee Aki has travelled to South Africa this afternoon after recovering sufficiently from a leg injury received in last night's victory over the Cheetahs. Photo / Getty Images.
Chiefs midfielder Bundee Aki has travelled to South Africa this afternoon after recovering sufficiently from a leg injury received in last night's victory over the Cheetahs. Photo / Getty Images.

Chiefs midfielder Bundee Aki has travelled to South Africa this afternoon after recovering sufficiently from a leg injury received in last night's victory over the Cheetahs.

Aki, a second-five who is impressing in his debut season, suffered a haematoma after colliding with a player in the second half of the 45-3 bonus point win which pushed his team to the top of the New Zealand conference and second overall.

Aki left the field and there were fears he could miss the Chiefs' trip to the Republic, where they play the Stormers and Southern Kings.

Coach Dave Rennie said the 22-year-old would be on light duties this week but should be available for the match against the Stormers at Newlands in Cape Town on Sunday.

Another boost is the return from injury of Andrew Horrell, a midfielder who will provide cover for Aki. Horrell, a standout for the defending champions last season, is back from a stress fracture of the foot and could get game time at Newlands.

"He should get game time against the Stormers and be right for the Kings, so there's a little bit more cover than we've had in recent weeks," Rennie said.

And in yet more good news for Rennie and his team, All Blacks midfielder Richard Kahui, who has been out of the game since the middle of last year, is progressing nicely from shoulder surgery.

"With a bit of luck Richard might be available when we get back to play the Highlanders [on March 22]. He's doing a bit of tackling now and we'll see how he progresses over the next couple of weeks."

That said, Rennie was unhappy with his side's performance in Hamilton last night (Sat).

"We've got a good bunch of boys but we set really high standards," he said. "We just felt that there was a real lack of attention to detail in a lot of things we did in the first half. The media were telling us we were going to beat the Cheetahs and everyone else did too and it was almost like we just have to play for a while and they will eventually lie down for us.

"We didn't have anywhere near the intensity we should have. We made too many fundamental errors. To be honest if we had played a high quality side last night we would have battled."

One shining light was the performance of Ben Afeaki at tighthead prop, although Gareth Anscombe's turn in the unfamiliar No15 jersey also continues to impress.

Rennie said of Afeaki: "He's had two huge games for us. He's doing the job at scrum time, he's getting around the park and he's making lots of tackles and cleaning out superbly, so he's been amazing."

Chiefs 45 (Liam Messam, Ben Afeaki, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Marshall, Ben Tameifuna tries; Anscombe 6 cons; pen).

Cheetahs 3 (Johan Goosen pen).

HT: 10-3

- APNZ

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 24 Jul 2014 00:32:28 Processing Time: 2296ms