Chiefs to hit the ground running in Super 14

Chiefs forwards coach Craig Stevenson says that with three warm up games planned for this season the Chiefs will not be underdone.

The Chiefs have something of a habit of starting slowly and then half way through the season picking up pace and making a charge at the play offs.

This year the Chiefs have placed more emphasis on pre-season training and will warm up for the Super 14 with three matches.

Chiefs vs Blues January 17 – Venue – Pukekohe

Chiefs vs Highlanders – January 23 – Venue – Rotorua

Chiefs vs Hurricanes +/- Feburary 6 -Venue – Gisborne

In preparation for the 2009 season for the first time the forwards did some set-piece work and all of the players some ball-skill work in the three weeks prior to their Christmas break.

Usually this time is spent with fitness trainers and is also used for team bonding and that has carried on in the summer heat this week as the squad returned from their holidays.

There are a number of new faces in the Chiefs squad and there are just four tight forwards Ben May, Aled de Malmanche (pictured) , Kevin O’Neill and Toby Lynn remain from last season and although Nathan White is on the comeback from his back problems and in the wider training group, that makes for a raw-looking group overall.

“We think we’ve got players who haven’t got a lot of experience but have shown at the Air New Zealand Cup level that they don’t give up.

“They’ve got a lot of tenacity and they will give everything for the Chiefs jersey and that’s why they’ve been picked,” Stevenson said.

“What we’re wanting to achieve with the players who are playing in the first two games against the Blues and the Highlanders is to give them as much information, game plans and technical advice as we can,” Stevenson told the Waikato Times.

“It’s so we don’t go in there underdone and those guys have got the opportunity to perform, albeit being early.

“Of course we’ll come out of those games with things to work on but we don’t want to leave too much to do in the last two weeks, cramming it in as we come into the start of the season.”

Stevenson said that the Chiefs were well in advance of where they have been in previous seasons and that they are pleased with the progress made.

“We certainly won’t show all of our hand in terms of what we are going to do but with some of the non-negotiables we’ll be doing some stuff around our defence, around our attack and around our set piece that we’re working on in these two weeks as well as the three weeks prior to Christmas.

“We make no bones about the fact we want to start the season on a real positive note and don’t want to take three or four games to get into it.

“We want to make sure that we put the pressure on ourselves now and give ourselves the opportunity to be able to put ourselves in the race from day one.”

The Chiefs say that all of their players returned from their holiday break in good shape and met their own targets of weight and body fat content and the All Blacks will return over the next week with all but Stephen Donald involved in some form of training this week.

“With them coming into the odd training it’s certainly lifting the intensity and also the excitement and competition.

“So we’re looking forward to being able to have a couple of weeks leading into that first (competition) game with them all back in full training,” Stevenson said.

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