Liam Messam eager to play Kings
Coming off the Chiefs' first Super Rugby defeat of the season, co-skipper Liam Messam does not want to sit out this weekend's game in South Africa just so he can celebrate his 100th appearance at home.
Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie confirmed from the republic yesterday Messam wants to play in Saturday morning's (NZ time) round-five clash with the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.
The Chiefs earlier in the day went down 36-34 to the Stormers in Cape Town and despite still being in a strong position at the top of the New Zealand conference and third overall with 12 points from three games, there was some concern about the forwards' performance.
Rennie has been toying for a while with the idea of resting flanker/No 8 Messam against the Kings so he could become the first Chief to bring up 100 games on home soil at Waikato Stadium the following weekend against the Highlanders. That was to hinge on any injuries and the result against the Stormers.
But now it seems that plan might be abandoned if Messam gets his way.
"We've had a chat to Liam and we'll make a decision in the next day or so," Rennie said. "We have got a number of concerns with our loose forwards and I know Liam's attitude is he wants to play and then celebrate 101 at home.
"In the end we'll just do what's best for the team, but it's important now we get a result on Friday night [South Africa time] against another side that will look at our game and probably think they can do a carbon copy of the performance that exposed us in a number of places.
"But I'm confident that the boys will bounce back."
The only injury concern from yesterday's match, in which the Chiefs scored four tries to the Stormers' three but were outplayed in several areas, is hooker Mahonri Schwalger's knee that was operated on in the off-season and flared up again in the match.
Youngster Rhys Marshall will be flown to South Africa if Schwalger does not recover quickly.
Meanwhile, there will be no days off for the Chiefs in a six-day turnaround this week. There will be a big emphasis on ramping up the breakdown physicality and improving the accuracy of their lineout while reducing giving away silly penalties.
"We just had too much possession at the wrong end of the field and they kicked five penalties which was pretty telling on the night."
While first five Aaron Cruden, who was denied a chance to attempt a drop-kick at goal at the end by slow service, produced some fine play including two perfectly judged grubber kicks to produce tries, he was "beating himself up" over the try he conceded with another such kick out of defence that was blocked.