Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Chief likes more strings to bow

Gareth Anscombe still has hankering for the No 10 jersey

Gareth Anscombe is happy to get the experience of playing at fullback. Photo / Getty Images
Gareth Anscombe is happy to get the experience of playing at fullback. Photo / Getty Images

He is happy to have another string to his bow, but Gareth Anscombe isn't ready to give up on the No10 jersey just yet.

The new Chiefs player shone in the unfamiliar position of fullback in his team's impressive victory over the Highlanders in Dunedin last weekend and he has been named at the back again against the Cheetahs in Hamilton tomorrow night but he still considers himself a first-five.

"I still see myself as a 10 and the coaches have indicated to me they still see me as a 10, but right now with a few injuries there's an opportunity to play 15," he said.

Incumbent first-five Aaron Cruden kept his position last week - though not the goalkicking duties - despite a groin strain, but Anscombe said playing in another position would help his game.

"It's a good opportunity for me ... and as a 10 it is good to understand the ways of a fullback. Versatility can only help - nowadays you have to be able to play two positions so it's nice having that and hopefully it grows my game all-round.

"[Coaches Dave Rennie and Wayne Smith] talked to me at pre-season about possible ideas of playing at the back, with Cruds [Cruden] playing. It can only help me in the future. There are other 10s around playing at the back and it can only help with higher honours. It's a good learning curve for me. I guess I've got enough pace to play at the back."

Unwanted by the Blues, Anscombe travelled to Hamilton before pre-season determined to work on his game - and goalkicking wasn't part of it. It explains his nervousness when handed the duties against the Highlanders. He responded by kicking eight from nine.

"In the pre-season I decided not to really practise it and try to work on other parts of my game and ramp it up as the competition wore on. And then at the same time I thought Cruds was kicking. I was pretty nervous going into it because I thought it was a bit underdone but I guess I've done it long enough to know my routines and know what it takes so thankfully I managed to get it right."

Anscombe, who flats with flanker Sam Cane and lock Brodie Retallick, is enjoying the change of scenery away from Auckland.

Coach Dave Rennie has taken the opportunity to rest lock Craig Clarke and halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow for the visit of the Cheetahs.

Hooker Hika Elliot is back from a calf strain and, in the other change to the starting XV, wing Lelia Masaga comes in for Patrick Osborne. APNZ

- APNZ

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 26 Dec 2014 04:25:37 Processing Time: 461ms