The Chiefs had an average 2008 Super 14 season finishing in seventh position on the final log.
With so much talent in the Chiefs squad it is surprising that they have failed to deliver on the promise these players have shown.
There is a sense that the Chiefs has been in a rebuilding phase over the past two season as experienced players such as Byron Kelleher, Marty Holah, Tom Willis and Jonno Gibbes left the franchise.
Therefore 2009 presents and opportunity for many of the promising players to emerge on the international stage and for new senior figures to emerge and lead the way.
The Chiefs proved that they can produce the firepower to beat the best in the Super 14, and can be a tough nut to crack, particularly at home. However, while one should expect them to be very competitive in Hamilton, they can struggle to reproduce that form on the road.
Strengths: The side is well suited to an attacking game and the players’ determination will count in their favour. Their back three is particularly lethal on counter attack.
Weakness: The Chiefs appear to be a bit thin in the tight five especially a lock and prop. Their defence has also been a known weakness over the past two seasons.
Noteworthy signings: James Wilson (Highlanders), Hika Elliot (Hawke’s Bay), Serge Lilo (Wellington),
Noteworthy losses: Tom Willis (Newport), Jonno Gibbes (retirement), Keith Robinson (retirement)
Coach: Ian Foster took the side to a historic first ever semifinal appearance during his first season as boss in 2004, but hasn’t been able to work the same magic since. Foster will be looking to build on the performance of 2009.
Captain: Mils Muliaina has been handed the official leadership role for 2009. He’s form on the All Blacks’ year-end tour was great and he is more than capable of leading by example.
Player(s) to watch: Liam Messam made his All Blacks debut during the year-end tour in 2008 after strong performances in last year’s Super 14 He will be one the key figures in the Chiefs pack. After being left out of the year-end tour, powerhouse flank Sione Lauaki will also have a point to prove.
2008 Position: 7th
Best finish: 4th in Super 12 in 2004
Worst finish: 11th in Super 12 in 1996
Home Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton (Capacity 26,350)
2009 Prediction: They probably won’t perform as well this year as they did last year. 7th.
Chiefs squad: Arizona Taumalolo, Ben May, James McGougan, Joe Savage, Hika Elliot, Aled de Malmanche, Kevin O’Neill, Toby Lynn, Craig Clarke, Mark Burman, Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer, Serge Lilo, Sione Lauaki, Colin Bourke, Brendon Leonard, Toby Morland, Stephen Donald, Michael Delany, Callum Bruce, Jackson Willison, Richard Kahui, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Lelia Masaga, Sosene Anesi, James Wilson, Malili Muliaina, Dwayne Sweeney
Saturday, February 14: Crusaders, away
Friday, February 20: Waratahs, away
Saturday, February 28: Sharks, home
Friday, March 6: Western Force, home
Saturday, March 14: Highlanders, away
Saturday, March 21: Blues, home
Saturday, March 28: Reds, away
Saturday,April 4: Lions, home
Sunday, April 19: Cheetahs, away
Sunday,April 26: Bulls, away
Sunday, May 3: Stormers, away
Saturday, May 9: Hurricanes ,home
Friday, May 15: Brumbies, home
Courtesy of Rugby 365Tweet