Tanerau Latimer feels he could not have celebrated his 100th Super Rugby game in any better fashion.
Not only was the "ironman" flanker on the field for all 80 minutes of the Chiefs' 36-20 victory over the Stormers at Waikato Stadium on Friday night, but he scored the final try and even got to take the conversion attempt.
And while he might have missed the latter he is not about to put away his kicking boots, having celebrated his 50th game for Bay of Plenty previously with a successful touchline conversion.
"It was very special to score right on fulltime," said Latimer. "It would have been even more special to have got the kick but it wasn't to be.
What was particularly special for him, however, was just to be able to celebrate the milestone with a much improved team performance.
"How I will remember this is that we took a step forward in both our attack and our defence, and that's all I could ask for really.
"The boys took a step up and showed a lot of Chiefs mana really."
Ahead of him, injuries and form permitting, is the chance to also bring up his 100th game for the Chiefs, having played the first five games of his Super Rugby career for the Crusaders as a 19-year-old back in 2006.
If he plays every game between now and then, it will come in the home match against the Crusaders at Waikato Stadium on April 19, which is going to be a big occasion in its own right.
Meanwhile Rennie and his fellow coaches have continued down the path of rotating their big squad every game to create competition and depth, while getting players match fit as well as occasionally freshening them up.
"We obviously wanted to give some guys some reasonable game time before we got on the plane, so we made a couple of changes and freshened up guys like Andrew Horrell and Mils Muliaina and gave Tom [Marshall] a start, Gareth [Anscombe] a start at the back; James Lowe and Liam Squire got their first starts and Matt Symons got another crack at it," Rennie said after Friday night's win.
"So they will all be better for it and there are a lot of positives here.
"We've got a lot of depth and there's a lot of competition for places so by giving them opportunities to play, it creates competition.
"Guys have got to front, we've found in the last couple of years it's worked for us and certainly the guys who got an opportunity tonight fronted again," he said.
- Waikato Times
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