The Chiefs may have slipped one place in the New Zealand conference, but they are still featuring highly in several of the stats categories.

Their back three of Damian McKenzie, Toni Pulu and James Lowe were in prime form in the 34-26 defeat to the Stormers, contributing most of the 17 breaks made by the Chiefs, as opposed to the six by the home side at Newlands. They also beat 13 defenders between them.

McKenzie made 16 carries for 132 metres, the third highest in round seven, while Lowe, who is showing what New Zealand rugby will be missing when he departs for Leinster at the end of the season, also made 16 carries for 123m. For good measure, McKenzie and Lowe made four and three offloads respectively, a clear indication that when the Chiefs get their attack and counter-attack in full swing, they are difficult to contain. Not to be outdone, right wing Toni Pulu scored two tries, one of them a 100m team spectacular, and made three breaks.

The five-eighths pairing of Aaron Cruden (3) and Stephen Donald (2) also got amongst the offloading game.


Liam Messam, at 33, may not be quite the dynamic player he once was, but he made three breaks and 11 tackles against the Stormers, plus pulled down three lineouts. The other workers were the likes of Lachie Boshier (14 tackles) and Kane Hames (13), so the Chiefs have a decent balance between X-factor and graft. Interestingly enough, halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow, who builds part of his game around solid defence, leads all Chiefs tacklers this season with 56 made.

Brodie Retallick is, unsurprisingly, the main lineout winner with 22 takes thus far in 2017, along with cleaning out bodies, for which there is, strangely, no hard stat.

McKenzie, a sitter for the first All Blacks squad of the year, is in the top 15 of no less than five attacking stats' categories. He is clearly one of the most potent offensive threats in Super Rugby and not for nothing was he a finalist in the 2016 NZ Super Rugby player of the year honours. This season has seen the fullback/first five continue on his merry way, mainly from the back, even if he would prefer to be running the Chiefs' cutter from No 10. That will come, surely, in 2018 when Cruden leaves these shores.

So the Cheetahs have been warned this weekend. Kick or kick poorly to the Chiefs at your peril.