The ever-evolving Chiefs are one good result away from achieving their version of the perfect start to 2020.

Warren Gatland hasn't once shied away from his desire to implement rest and rotation in the Chiefs squad each week. In fact he made it clear this would be the case from the moment he arrived.

Managing workloads and ensuring that everyone who is fit and available gets game time is the clear mantra behind selection at the Chiefs.

Such a formula hasn't appeared to derail things thus far — it certainly didn't last week.


Gatland's guzzlers played decent rugby in their win over the Sunwolves, despite names such as Aaron Cruden, Sam Cane and Anton Lienert-Brown not being available, and 43-points were scored that day, the highest by the Chiefs in a single game thus far.

This week Lachlan Boshier, Brad Weber and Solomon Aliamalo are all slated to miss the Brumbies game, and for some reason, that drew a little criticism.

One commentator this week suggested the Chiefs' rest and rotations are 'cheating' their fans. They went on to urge the franchise to refund tickets to the fans who walk through the gate on Saturday, because charging the same price of admission, while having three players of star quality missing borders on consumer fraud, according to that writer.

How such statements can appear to be fair and balanced baffles the mind. If anything, what Gatland and co are doing is nurturing this Chiefs squad.

Rest is being given to those who've come off three weeks of hardest rugby. Look no further than Boshier for a prime example of that. Think about how many tackles the 25-year old has made in the last few weeks, consider the work he's done at scrums and lineouts, then factor in the wins he's had at the breakdown in moments that have literally been game-changing.

Any logical critic would accept the physical toll that takes on a player, especially a loose forward. We are barely half way into February — so think about the amount of rugby ahead of Boshier regardless of whether or not he is a feature in the All Blacks this year.

You can't have it both ways, preaching player safety and wellbeing and then criticise coaches for resting players, like Boshier and Aliamalo, who've both been on the park for nearly 240 minutes in three weeks.

The Chiefs should be applauded, not criticised, for rest and rotation. It's creating genuine competition for playing spots within the side and it's also ensuring measures for welfare of the players.


But the impact goes even deeper than that.

The tone within the camp is more vibrant, more cheerful, more open and more honest than it's been in some time. That can only be good for what happens on the park.

■ Michael Pulman is a freelance journalist based in Hamilton.