The Chiefs are looking to tour Argentina next June when they are stuck with a five-week break without any rugby.
With 28 players secured for next season, leaving three to four to be finalised in the draft meeting of New Zealand franchise coaches at the end of this month, the reigning Super Rugby champions are hoping they can find the money to take the team to the South American country to get some game time.
Head coach Dave Rennie and assistant Wayne Smith returned on Friday from a two-week visit to Argentina where they conducted coaching clinics, watched the All Blacks play and attended some local matches.
They also talked to a number of rugby people, Rennie building on contacts he established on a similar visit there last year.
"We met with a range of people over there with a view to establishing relationships," Rennie said.
A pre-season trip to Argentina was not practical for the Chiefs next year as their two-match South African visit happens three games into the season.
But because the Chiefs have a bye in round 16 at the end of May/start of June followed by another four weekends off for the international window, Rennie is keen to get the team to Argentina then.
"It depends on a lot of things," Rennie said. "It depends on finance of course but there is the potential for a big game over there and a big gate.
"We would go over there and do a bit of work in the community as well, so it's got some real positives for both parties and it just comes down to whether we can get it off the ground."
Rennie said the Chiefs were not looking at any Argentine players for their squad for next season but did not rule it out for the future and said that with a number of players off contract in Europe new South African franchise the Kings was understood to have recruited some and the Hurricanes were believed to be signing a Pumas lock.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs are understood to be in the process of signing discarded young Blues five-eighth Gareth Anscombe as their 28th squad member for next year, a move that was not planned until the No 10 came on the market. Anscombe was delisted by the Blues, meaning despite his current contract with the Auckland-based franchise he was free to be picked up by another New Zealand outfit.
He would be the No 2 first five-eighth for the Chiefs behind All Black Aaron Cruden, allowing Andrew Horrell to concentrate on his midfield and fullback roles. Rennie said the Chiefs had enough room in their budget for the maximum 32 players and if they did decide to go with that number, they would add a third hooker. It is understood Crusaders hooker Quentin MacDonald is among the hookers the Chiefs have talked to.
The Chiefs have already contracted three halfbacks, with Counties Manukau No 9 August Pulu signed as a full member of the squad after being in the wider training group this year.
The Chiefs could potentially also sign a fifth prop and another loose forward, while delisted midfield back Jackson Willison could still end up in the squad if not picked up by another franchise.
Rennie has been an interested spectator at a number of NPC matches within the Chiefs' franchise.
"Obviously Counties have gone really well and I think a number of guys there - maybe 10 or 11 - will pick up Super Rugby contracts, the Blues could end up with two or three of them, one of them could end up at the Hurricanes and a fair few with us.
"Waikato won the [Ranfurly] Shield with a fantastic performance and should get a really good crowd against Hawke's Bay, which will be great for them.
"Bay of Plenty have let a couple of games slip that were crucial when they looked to have them under control and are in a scrap now to avoid relegation but Manawatu did them a favour yesterday [by beating Hawke's Bay] and hopefully they can knock over Canterbury."
Rennie said it had been hard for the Chiefs players to go from winning the Super Rugby final, having a week to celebrate and then the next week being back in training with their provincial teams. Several of those who had not had a lot of Super Rugby game time had been going great guns while others were fatigued and had taken longer to get going.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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