Rugby: Dave Rennie looking for one last big push with Chiefs

By Campbell Burnes

Dave Rennie. Photo / Getty
Dave Rennie. Photo / Getty

Dave Rennie is happy to be talking on-field rugby issues again after two separate sagas since the Chiefs last kicked a ball in anger.

The Chiefs coach will draw a line, in August, after six seasons at the helm of this franchise, whose previously unblemished "good buggers" image has taken a battering in recent months. Rennie will head to Glasgow, but he will be determined to give Super Rugby one last rattle before then.

He addressed media yesterday in Hamilton on a raft of subjects.

"We're pretty resolute as a group and we'll do our talking on the field," Rennie declared.

The Chiefs will be taking a large squad of probably close to 40 players to Brisbane next week, where they will face the Bulls on February 9 at Ballymore, before a group will stay on to contest the 10s that weekend.

He offered his first official views on the new and much debated high tackle laws.

"In the end, it's a safety issue. The reckless tackles will be dealt with, and the accidental stuff means you are put yourself at risk of a card. I would imagine it means more of an emphasis on chop tackling and trying to be more dominant in that area. There will be some common sense, particularly around how low guys carry and leading in with the head, et cetera. So I would think the first three weeks will be a searching out period," he says.

"They have been tough over in the UK and handed out a few red cards... but you just can't put yourself in that situation. It'll still be a battle of body heights and you have to be lower than them.

The final Chiefs' pre-season match will be on February 17 at Auckland's Shadbolt Park.

Rennie gave a roll call of the injured or rehabbing list, which includes Glen Fisi'iahi, Nathan Harris, Sam Cane, Chase Tiatia (out until May). Prop Nepo Laulala played today in a practice game after a long layoff. Rennie jokingly hinted that Mils Muliaina and Carl Hoeft, Chiefs and All Blacks of yesteryear, might get a run against the Bulls.

***

Meanwhile, Mitch Karpik's rehabilitation from a bad knee injury is complete.

The 21-year-old Jean-Pierre Rives loose forward lookalike - though he had to check Google for the reference - had a run today in a hitout against the Chiefs Development XV in Hamilton. At a pinch, he might have been right back in October for the climax of the Bay of Plenty Steamers' season, but medical advice put the kybosh on those hopes.

"I can't complain. It's been a year out of the game, but I feel like I'm a 10-year-old again... it's been hours and hours of rehab. I took the opportunity to do a couple of (business) papers at uni, so that kept me busy. It's niggly to just watch on the sidelines in a team game when you are a cripple on the sideline," says Karpik, who hurt himself in the 2016 pre-season.

If he turns out to be as good as the man to whom he is acting as apprentice, Sam Cane, or even half as good as Rives, the great 1975-84 French loosie, who led France in 34 of his 59 tests - and to a famous Bastille Day 1979 victory over the All Blacks at Eden Park - not to mention wowing all with his commitment and bravery, then it will be some career for Karpik.

- 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 apcf03 at 25 May 2017 11:56:01 Processing Time: 297ms