Rugby: Cane and Tamanivalu both set for semifinal starts

By Kris Shannon

Sam Cane has enjoyed a busy season both with the Chiefs and the All Blacks. Photo / Getty
Sam Cane has enjoyed a busy season both with the Chiefs and the All Blacks. Photo / Getty

The Chiefs have received a couple of positive pieces of injury news, with both Sam Cane and Seta Tamanivalu set to start this weekend's semifinal against the Hurricanes.

Cane was initially in doubt after picking up a head knock in the quarter-final victory over the Stormers while Tamanivalu sat out that match with a knee injury, but both men appear to have suitably recovered.

While Dave Rennie won't name his team until tomorrow for Saturday's match in Wellington, the coach was confident Cane and Tamanivalu would be included.

"[Cane] has bounced back really well," Rennie said. "We thought it was pretty minor - he was grumpy at halftime that he'd actually been taken off. But it was the right call and we're confident he'll be ready to go."

The co-captain will add some much-needed experience to a youthful loose forward group while Tamanivalu will also be a senior face in a midfield ravaged by injuries.

Stephen Donald was the latest to be laid low, ruled out of the semifinal with a shoulder injury, meaning Tamanivalu's imminent return was timely.

"He has to get through training this afternoon, but we had a jog around this morning and he seems to be travelling all right," Rennie said. "He'll be pretty important - he got a couple of dot-downs against [the Hurricanes] last time.

"He's a big man who carries hard and he draws a lot of attention. So it's nice to have that option, especially with Beaver being no good."

There was less certainty around the availability of Michael Leitch, although Rennie said the No 8 was still a chance to be picked. Leitch hasn't featured for the Chiefs since breaking his thumb in May but only contact work stood between him and the semifinal.

"We'll know a bit more by tomorrow," Rennie said. "It comes down to a little bit of confidence - being able to take a knock on it. We were always thinking quarter or semifinal time for him. But if he's not right, he's not right. We won't push it but he's going to be close."

The Hurricanes are dealing with their own injury issue, after captain Dane Coles sustained damage to his rib cartilage in last weekend's shut out of the Sharks. But, if the hooker is unable to take his place, Rennie was not expecting his side to receive a huge advantage.

"He's a quality player, obviously a leading All Black, but what tends to happen when teams lose players is they galvanise and work harder together. Neither side is going to take the field with their best 15 players available but I'm sure they'll just focus on who they've got rather than who they haven't."

The Chiefs enjoyed a lighter session this morning as they recover from their recent travels, with training to be ramped up this afternoon before the team head to Wellington later in the week. Awaiting them will be the competition's form team and, after winning by one point when the sides met in April, Rennie was counting on another cracking encounter.

"In the end, history counts for nothing - it's how well we play this weekend," he said. "We know it's a hell of a side we're going to play against, so regardless of the weather I think it will be pretty good viewing."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 28 Mar 2017 10:40:08 Processing Time: 384ms