Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Chiefs battle best tonic after slump - Kirwan

The Blues are challenging themselves into a passionate cross-border duel with the Chiefs.

Some of the Blues' gusto waned in their last two defeats, a factor coach John Kirwan attributed to them worrying about the outcome instead of concentrating on their methods.

But meeting the Chiefs on Saturday was the best tonic for his side.

"It's what we want to play, we want to measure ourselves against the best. They are favourites and we just need to get excited and go down there and give it our best shot," he said.

Super 15 statistics show the Chiefs rate better than their opponents in every area except tackling success.

Outside back Tim Nanai-Williams heads the Chiefs in the top 10 lists of tries scored, clean breaks, metres gained, and offloads while Charles Piutau is the Blues' leading player in clean breaks, metres gained and defenders beaten.

Both sides will be named today with tighthead prop Angus Ta'avao likely to be the only Blues change for the injured Charlie Faumuina.

Returning former skipper Keven Mealamu is unlikely to be used from the bench this week with James Parsons in such strong form and Quentin MacDonald an able deputy.

While the Blues sank under the weight of their errors and the Sydney humidity last round, the Chiefs returned from South Africa and outlasted the Highlanders 19-7.

The Chiefs have their first bye after Saturday's game at Mt Maunganui while the Blues next face the Highlanders then Hurricanes.

The Chiefs have been consistent with four wins and one blemish against the Stormers while the Blues are working to get more balance.

"We need to work out how to deal with things when they are going awry," Kirwan agreed. "They are steps in our rugby education.

"We know we will have to be at our best to get near the Chiefs and we know that we can get excited and play rugby. We are not worried about them. We know how good they are but we are just going out there to play.

"We need to play our game though and you haven't seen that for a few weeks and that is what our guys want to show this week."

Kirwan and his coaching group were frustrated at the way the Blues withered in their last match after they held a 14-point lead at the interval.

"We let ourselves down and we have got to show some more steel."

- NZ Herald

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 21 Apr 2014 12:31:40 Processing Time: 405ms