Chiefs coach Dave Rennie issues NZ rugby warning
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has issued a dire warning that New Zealand's rugby stocks are running low.
Rennie had wanted to bring former All Blacks centre Casey Laulala back from Ireland on a short-term contract, but was turned down by the New Zealand Rugby Union.
He admits he's not sure where to look now.
Star centre Richard Kahui's one of three midfielders the Chiefs have lost to injury or illness, with Rennie relying on rookie Bundee Aki and Charlie Ngatai who's fresh back from a hamstring strain.
"He looks pretty good. He's still a bit stiff through the back but at least we know there's no issue with the hammy, he'll be good to go on the weekend," says Rennie.
Just as well, because Rennie has run out of options.
"There is a real issue around. We've got a lot of our next tier going overseas, there's an enormous amount of players who have gone recently or are about to go - more than people realise, I think. So when you look at that situation, we're starting to look at guys who aren't even starting for their NPC side," he says.
Which is why Rennie wanted to bring back three Test All Black Casey Laulala but it fell outside the New Zealand Rugby Union's April 1 cut-off.
"We knew the rules going in so it was an appeal for some help really. [We haven't called anyone else in domestically yet] we're still sorting through that. If we got another injury we'd be under massive pressure," Rennie says.
Pressure that's already high with Gareth Anscombe out for a month with a broken foot leaving Aaron Cruden the only experienced first-five in the squad.
The Chiefs had looked at getting Stephen Donald back as cover, and while that also fell through Players' Association boss Rob Nichol likes the idea of former All Blacks returning on short-term contracts.
"The value of experience within a professional rugby team is not to be underrated, and I think if we're able to convince a guy to come back, he comes back for a few weeks, enjoys it and wants to stay then that can only benefit everyone," Nichol says.
And there might be a silver lining for the Chiefs if Kahui's injury ruins his two-year deal to play in Japan.
"There's a whole lot of different options," Kahui says.
Not so many for Rennie though as he looks at his eighth different midfield in 12 games.