The Chiefs have returned home from Australia ready to lift their high-tempo game another level to cope with a steady diet of South African teams determined to stop their roll in the Super 14.
Evan Pegden writes in the Waikato Times that four wins in a row and six bonus points have rocketed rugby’s newly crowned “entertainers” to third place but their head coach Ian Foster is warning they will have to find ways to combat the South Africans’ plans to slow down their ball at set piece and breakdowns.
The Chiefs might have do that without their superstar All Black wing Sitiveni Sivivatu, who was to undergo x-ray and scans today to determine the extent of a painful shoulder injury suffered in the course of “scoring” a disallowed try in the 50-26 romp over the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday night.
They will, however, have the services of utility back Dwayne Sweeney who was yesterday forced to stay back in Australia, along with coach Ian Foster for a judicial hearing after being cited for the early tackle he was yellow-carded for after coming on to the field as a replacement.
The judicial panel decided his yellow card was sufficient penalty and imposed no further sanction, Sweeney and Foster flying home late last night.
Foster yesterday said from Brisbane that Sivivatu had definitely strained his shoulder and the Chiefs’ medical staff were concerned about a possible dislocation.
“It looks like there might have been a bit of movement in his shoulder joint but it’s hard to say how bad it is,” Foster said.
“It could be a reasonably significant shoulder injury or it could be a bad strain, but either way he’s pretty sore.”
Sivivatu has scored six tries in his last two games for the Chiefs and should have had three in Brisbane but for incompetent officiating. But the dominance of him and his fellow outside backs, along with storming No8 Sione Lauaki all relies on their team-mates winning quick ball for them.
“They are playing off a platform that is pretty effective at the moment but we’ve got some big challenges with the South Africans coming up soon so that’s going to be the next step for us up front,” Foster said.
The Chiefs host Johannesburg’s Lions at Waikato Stadium this Saturday night, then have a bye before flying to the Republic to play away games against the Cheetahs in Kimberley, Bulls in Pretoria and Stormers in Cape Town.
“There’s no doubt we’re going to have to step up. People are going to look for ways to slow down our game and we’ve just got to be conscious of that and keep improving ourselves,” Foster said.
There is a chance wing/fullback Sosene Anesi may be back from his shoulder injury this week to take the place of Sivivatu, but it will depend on what progress he has made while the Chiefs have been in Australia.Tweet