Stand out Chiefs push for All Black spots
Sat, 28 Jul 2012 7:40p.m.
By Jim Kayes
With the All Blacks squad for the rugby championship to be named next Sunday several Chiefs pushed their case in front of the selectors - although one will be available for just two tests.
On the ground where he shone for the All Blacks against Ireland Liam Messam staked another claim for higher honours with the Chiefs.
And Sonny Bill Williams showed why the All Blacks skipper hopes he'll delay his departure to Japan so he can play the first two tests against Australia next month.
“You saw the way he played tonight, to have him available, if he's keen and it all works, well I don't see that being a problem to be honest,” says McCaw.
And Crusaders first-five Dan Carter agrees.
“If he's available and keen to play it would be great to have him for a couple more All Black games, they're pretty important matches first up,” says Carter.
“For New Zealand rugby that would be great if he was playing for the All Blacks but we're just happy with his form for the Chiefs at the moment, we just need one more big game out of the big man,” says Chief’s flanker Liam Messam.
While Williams and Messam had big games with the ball this match was won on defence; the Chiefs made 134 tackles and missed just nine, their hits producing penalties, turnovers and Crusader errors.
“Defence has probably been our strength, we get a lot of our attack off quality defence as well,” says Chief’s coach Dave Rennie.
And the Chiefs were dangerous with the ball in hand, Aaron Cruden again showing why he's such a superb back up to Dan Carter.
“That's obviously why we chased him out of the Hurricanes, he's a bloody good man, he's an outstanding player and I think he can be better,” says Rennie.
And as good as the Chiefs were, they have to produce that again to win the final.
“That's always the challenge I guess in sport, to back the performances up. If they're able to get to that level again then there's no reason that they can't,” says McCaw.
And they've learnt a valuable lesson from their 2009 finals appearance.
“We probably celebrated a bit too much when we made the final, enjoyed the occasion a bit too much,” says Messam.
“We have to make sure we have a bit of steel about ourselves, we're not sure if we'll be at home or in South Africa but this group of men is willing to do whatever it takes for each other.”
And that is why the Chiefs are probably favourites to win their first title, wherever it's played.
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