The 2010 Chiefs season was one of the strangest in the history of the competition. The losing 2009 Finalists, started with an impressive three wins on the road against the Sharks, Lions (their 72-65 win will go down as a landmark game under the then new rule interpretations) and then beating the Force on the way home in Perth. Most punters, included myself thought the Chiefs looked like they had picked up where they left off at the end of the 2009 season.
However this couldn’t be further from the truth with the next eleven rounds returning only one win.
This year’s side again looks a little underpowered up front. Which may again be their achilles heel, meaning that they may struggle against the traditional powerhouse sides in the competition.
They do however bring a great group of attacking backs to the competition that will definitely set the competition alight at times during the season.
Captained again from fullback by the most capped All Black of all time – Mils Muliaina, they will not lack ambition and are certain to be well marshalled from the back.
At full strength the Chiefs will have a complete All Black backline boasting the likes of, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Stephen Donald, Lelia Masaga, Richard Kahui, Brendon Leonard and Mike Delany.
There will also be the return to Super Rugby from All Black legend Tana Umaga.
In the forwards most responsibility will fall on the shoulders of 2010 All Black loose forward Liam Messam. He will be charged with directing the pack around the park.
Others in the loose include Colin Bourke (who was injured playing for the Barbarians), who will play alongside other former test open side’s Tanerau Latimer and Scott Waldrom, while look for the Counties Manukau powerhouse Fritz Lee to make an impression in his first season of Super rugby.
The tight five again looks a little brittle, however with the arrival of Isaac Ross he will be looking to dispel that rumour and make a big impression after moving north from the Crusaders, while Hika Elliot will want to continue his progress seen while in Europe.
The Chiefs 2011 squad is an interesting mixture of vast experience and up and coming talent – who knows how the longer 2011 format will unfold for the Chiefs franchise, all I’m saying is that I will not be making any grand predictions after the first three rounds of this season.
Chiefs Wider Training Group
Matt Vant Leven
Chiefs Full Squad
Fullbacks: Mils Muliaina, Tim Nanai-Williams
Wingers: Lelia Masaga, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Dwayne Sweeney
Midfield: Richard Kahui, Save Tokula, Jackson Willison, Tana Umaga
First five-eighths: Stephen Donald, Mike Delany
Halfbacks: Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Brendon Leonard, Taniela Moa
Loose forwards: Colin Bourke, Tanerau Latimer, Fritz Lee, Liam Messam, Scott Waldrom
Locks: Craig Clarke, Romana Graham, Culum Retallick, Isaac Ross, Hayden Triggs
Props: Ben Afeaki, Ben May, Toby Smith, Sona Taumalolo, Nathan White
Hookers: Aled de Malmanche, Hikawera Elliot, Daniel Perrin.
Chiefs Super Record
2004 Chiefs losing semi finalist
2009 Chiefs lost to the Bulls 17-61 in the Final – 2009 Runner Up