Rugby: Set-piece woes dog Chiefs

By Campbell Burnes

Pulu says team still believe they can make top six as they face Hurricanes on Friday.

Chiefs halfback Augustine Pulu admits his game is marred by "a couple of little errors".Photo / Getty Images
Chiefs halfback Augustine Pulu admits his game is marred by "a couple of little errors".Photo / Getty Images

The Chiefs are still full of hope but they will need to be a lot more clinical and patient when they meet the Hurricanes on Friday night at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.

The defending Super Rugby champions are locked on 36 points with the Force and Blues and face a huge task to even make the top six playoffs.

"We still believe in ourselves to make the top six. It's about having a good review and then on the park just creating more opportunities and being clinical with the ball," said halfback Augustine Pulu.

The 24-year-old was not entirely happy with his own work against the Highlanders, marking All Black incumbent Aaron Smith, but he is returning from a minor knee operation after a meniscus tear.

"I've got to get a couple of little errors out of my game," he said, but he could have been speaking for the whole team with mistakes symptomatic of the Chiefs' last three defeats.

Pulu did not have any instant solution or panacea for the Chiefs' set-piece woes, which resurfaced against the Highlanders, especially at scrum time.

"It's hard for me to say as halfback, because all I do is put the ball in. The boys have had had a bit of an issue at the front, but we back the props to do the job. In general, we have to be more patient and clinical in the attacking zone. We've done a lot of analysis there and just need to make sure of the finer details," said Pulu.

He is in the rare position of being eligible for three international sides: New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa, but he does not have to make any call on that just yet, when one considers that Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has been happy to start him ahead of All Black Tawera Kerr-Barlow, as he often does with Tanerau Latimer and Sam Cane.

"They [Tonga and Samoa] are still knocking at my door, but I just want to play my best rugby for the Chiefs right now. I've always had a dream to be an All Black, and that fire is still burning. I've got to focus on doing well and getting those starts."

Injury still hinders the Chiefs: prop Josh Hohneck is out for eight weeks with a broken thumb, though is it is not clear whether he sustained the injury before or after his late try on Friday night. Lock Brodie Retallick is banged up but should be available for selection against the Hurricanes.

- NZ Herald

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