Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Rennie backs Henry as Crockett hits back

Chiefs coach says loosehead prop's techniques disrupt the opposition well.

Wyatt Crockett angles in at the scrum and does it well, says Chiefs' coach Dave Rennie. Photo / Getty Images
Wyatt Crockett angles in at the scrum and does it well, says Chiefs' coach Dave Rennie. Photo / Getty Images

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie believes Sir Graham Henry made some good points in his blast at match officials, including the one about Wyatt Crockett's scrummaging technique.

Rennie was last night at pains to point out that he believed much of what Henry said was tongue-in-cheek, including the statement that Crusaders prop Crockett "got away with murder" in his team's 23-3 victory against Henry's Blues in Christchurch, but it was an issue nonetheless.

The Chiefs coach wasn't moved to make a similar statement about the loosehead prop, but did say: "Everyone knows what Wyatt tries to do at scrum time."

Rennie added: "He angles in. He's a strong lad and he does it well, disrupting the opposition's scrums."

Crockett however has fired back saying he doesn't listen to Henry.

"I've got a couple of people who I trust and really listen to. And they're good people, and got good understanding of scrummaging," he told RadioSport

"Ted's actually not one of those, so I'm not too worried about what he says.''

Crockett has largely kept his counsel when given a chance to respond to Henry and said it's nothing new for him.

"He's looking for a reason as to why their scrum perhaps didn't operate the way they wanted it to, I suppose.

"He just had a crack at me, but I could take it.'' Crockett said he will continue to scrummage as he always has.

The Blues' scrum competed well for most of the match at AMI Stadium, until it hit the skids in the final quarter, with the Crusaders gaining a huge advantage. In one scrum the Crusaders walked over the top of the Blues, Ali Williams complaining in vain about the opposition's tactics as Glen Jackson issued a penalty against his team.

That pack disintegration is unlikely to happen at Waikato Stadium tomorrow night when the two New Zealand heavyweights clash for the first time this season.

A Ben Afeaki calf strain has opened the door for Ben Tameifuna to make his considerable presence felt for the Chiefs. Officially listed at 137kg but perhaps a little heavier, Tameifuna is an incredibly tough man to shift, and Rennie is confident he will give a good account of himself.

Afeaki has been a revelation for the Chiefs with his work around the field adding to his core scrum and lineout duties, form rewarded by a call-up to the All Black environment for the first time. Tameifuna was on the All Blacks' radar last year but has slipped this season, mainly because of his weight issues.

The clash between Crockett, included in Steve Hansen's recent All Black camp, and Tameifuna, will be a fascinating one.

So too will be the way referee Steve Walsh officiates. Walsh, a late replacement for the injured Chris Pollock, will be under particular scrutiny after Henry's comments served to further put the spotlight on match officials this season. Rennie continued a theme when saying he hoped Walsh allowed his team access to quick ball.

"I think Steve Walsh has been doing an excellent job. One of his best games was in the recent Waratahs v Brumbies match where he was very good at allowing the game to flow."

Chiefs v Crusaders

Waikato Stadium, 7.35pm tomorrow

Robbie Robinson
Patrick Osborne
Charlie Ngatai
Bundee Aki
Aaron Cruden
T. Kerr-Barlow
Matt Vant Leven
Tanerau Latimer
Liam Messam
Brodie Retallick
Craig Clarke (c)
Ben Tameifuna
Hika Elliot
Pauliasi Manu

Chiefs: Mahonri Schwalger, Toby Smith, Michael Fitzgerald, Sam Cane, Augustine Pulu, Dan Waenga, Lelia Masaga.

Israel Dagg
Tom Marshall
Ryan Crotty
Tom Taylor
Zac Guildford
Dan Carter
Andy Ellis
Kieran Read (c)
Matt Todd
George Whitelock
Sam Whitelock
Luke Romano
Owen Franks
Codie Taylor
Wyatt Crockett

Crusaders: Ben Funnell/Laurence Corlett, Joe Moody, Dominic Bird, Luke Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Robbie Fruean, Telusa Veianu.


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