There's life after Sonny Bill - Chiefs coach

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:00 31/10/2012

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Super Rugby

Super Rugby will miss All Blacks for first round Dave Rennie on the hunt for another halfback Chiefs snap up Bryce Heem and Sean Polwart Move to Taranaki pays off for Iopu-Aso Chiefs add two forwards to Super Rugby squad Chiefs grab Seta Tamanivalu, Mitchell Graham Kiwi talent features in new-look Samoan squad Graham returning to Chiefs as props recruited David Hill recruited to coach the Blues' backs Blues hire former All Black as backs coach

The Chiefs are preparing for life after Sonny Bill Williams next year, but head coach Dave Rennie is confident they can kick on without him.

"Obviously everyone will say there's no Sonny Bill [in 2013] but we're pretty confident we can get quality performances out of the guys we've got in that mix and they're all quite different," Rennie said.

Recruiting had been done in some cases with that in mind and there would be tweaks to the game plan to accommodate Williams' absence in the second five-eighth position.

But the basics wouldn't change.

"For Sonny to function we needed the boys up front to go well and give us quality set piece and that won't change.

"We need to strike well and while he was special in creating go-forward and offloading and creating a bit of continuity we believe we've got other players who can fill that role as well.

"Nothing changes in regard to that basic stuff - we need to get quality set-piece and quality strike and we need fast ball for a couple of phases to put teams under pressure.

"How we do that will alter a bit depending on personnel."

Rennie said the coaches had 22 of the 2012 squad back, having picked that squad on character and work ethic, plus three from the wider training group.

"In the end those guys won a championship and we've got a lot of confidence in them and have brought in seven other guys who we think can add to the group.

"We worked bloody hard to achieve what we got this year and it's going to be even harder next year, especially against the New Zealand teams who are amazingly strong."

The Chiefs, minus their 12 All Blacks and Maori All Blacks, officially start pre-season training on December 10.

Meanwhile the Chiefs will again take two of their home games out of Hamilton with the Easter Saturday (March 31) match against the Blues at Mt Maunganui's Baypark Stadium and the match against Western Force in Pukekohe on Friday, May 10.

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- Waikato Times

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