Rugby: Chiefs tired? They'll be all right on the night - Marshall

By Campbell Burnes

James Marshall  is excited about the match against the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images
James Marshall is excited about the match against the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images

James Marshall would rather be in the Hurricanes' shoes than the travel-weary Chiefs, but he is not banking on the travel being the decisive factor in Saturday's enticing semifinal showdown at Wellington's Cake Tin.

"[Sleeping in your bed] is nice. It's definitely an advantage, but it's not the advantage," said the 27-year-old Hurricanes fullback. "I don't think it affects you on game day, but it obviously affects your preparation a bit. You're on a shorter week. You're tired up until the Thursday and Friday, but once you get to the game, it doesn't really affect you."

The Chiefs arrived back in New Zealand only on Tuesday and should they upset the Hurricanes and the Lions beat the Highlanders, they will face another long, unappetising haul back to the Republic for the final. Winning both those matches in those circumstances would be some effort.

Marshall's preparation will be uncomplicated, as the Hurricanes put the finishing touches on their plan to beat the Chiefs.

"It'll be the same stuff: We'll try and repeat exactly what we did last week and hope we get exactly the same results."

There are, of course, three variables: the weather, which turned ugly last Saturday, though the Hurricanes played with the accuracy of a team with the sun on their backs; the refereeing (Australian Angus Gardner has the job); and the Chiefs, who were rampant in their 60-21 dismantling of the Stormers, though three late tries blew out the scoreline.

"I'm definitely excited. I watched that Chiefs-Stormers on the weekend, and the Chiefs looked awfully impressive. I thought we played pretty well too, so it should be a helluva match.

"The Chiefs played their style and the Stormers couldn't really keep with them," Marshall said.

Marshall will mark Damian McKenzie, who is among the leaders in several Super Rugby stats categories, including points (190, three behind Beauden Barrett). But Marshall is no slouch, scoring his third try in 12 games in the 41-0 demolition of the Sharks, and he even slotted into the first five role when Barrett was subbed for the final quarter. Marshall is a smart, resourceful footballer, whose skillset will complement Cory Jane and Jason Woodward in the back three. Last Saturday, Marshall made 12 carries, which highlights his work-rate. He will be missed when he departs for London Irish in the near future.

The Hurricanes have won nine of the last 11 home games against the Chiefs, but they did drop their last one, 28-27 at Westpac Stadium in round nine, a clash notable for a scrum controversy surrounding the Chiefs' front-row replacements.

- NZ Herald

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