Rugby: Filipo's frustration about to end for Chiefs

Ross Filipo hopes his frustrating spell on the sidelines for the Chiefs is about to end. Photo / Ross Setford.
Ross Filipo hopes his frustrating spell on the sidelines for the Chiefs is about to end. Photo / Ross Setford.

Ross Filipo hopes his frustrating spell on the sidelines for the Chiefs is about to end.

After a break of four years - Filipo last played Super Rugby for the Crusaders in 2009 before signing for Bayonne in France and then Wasps in London - he hopes he is on the verge of selection to play the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday morning NZT.

"I'm a little bit disappointed that I've had to wait three or four games in," Filipo said. "I was unable to be available for selection in the first week [due to an elbow injury]. I'm really excited. I want to get my first cap under my belt and join the rest of the boys."

Filipo, a former All Blacks lock, now considers himself a loose forward, and in particular a No8. The make-up of the Chiefs loosies is an intriguing one given flanker Liam Messam is on 99 caps and the coaching staff are said to be still discussing whether to play him or allow the 28-year-old to celebrate the milestone against the Highlanders in Hamilton next weekend.

Messam played at No8 in the narrow defeat by the Stormers in Cape Town last weekend, with Sam Cane and Tanerau Latimer on the side of the scrum.

Not surprisingly, Filipo, 33, just wants to be involved, saying he was fully fit and keen to take on the Kings coached by former Crusaders hooker Matt Sexton at Nelson Mandela Stadium.

His experience could be useful against a Kings team which has impressed with its physicality and defence despite being new to the competition.

Although they lost to the Sharks - without conceding a try, or scoring one - the Kings are more competitive than expected, albeit their two games have been at home.

Assistant coach Wayne Smith said inspired South Africa teams were difficult to play against and the Kings, who he saw as similar to the Stormers, would be no different.

"Certainly over here [South Africa] it's a real examination of physical will and [it's about] being able to withstand teams with physical muscle," he said.

For Filipo that might come as a shock, given he has had to slim down to make the transition from tight forward.

"There's been a mental shift and there's had to be a physical shift too," he said. "I've had to drop a few kgs and work on my speed too. You can't be as big or as bulky, you have to be more mobile and make sure you can go the distance."

- APNZ

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