Editorial - Chiefs deserve support
The significance of the Chiefs' results from their tour of Australia and South Africa may not have dawned on some yet. To win three out of three is an epic result. Rarely in Super Rugby has this been done, such are the demands of travel, particularly between New Zealand and South Africa.
The results leave the Chiefs top of the table and with seven successive victories, a record for the franchise.
The last performance on Sunday morning against the Sharks was notable because the Chiefs weren't even at their best. They looked jaded and a trifle flat yet through miserly defence and composure they held on to win 18-12.
The Chiefs seem to have made the transition into a team that doesn't just hope to win, they expect to win. Unlike in previous years, this Chiefs lineup perform the set pieces solidly and don't fall apart when the going gets tough. Wayne Smith's influence is evident in the defence – the best in the competition to date.
Coach Dave Rennie deserves massive credit for the team's turnaround. He has surrounded himself with a tight management team. Is it any coincidence that just as the All Blacks were superbly led by an ex-teacher in Graham Henry, Rennie, Smith and the other two assistants, Tom Coventry and Andrew Strawbridge, are all ex-teachers? And Rennie's pre-season recruitment has been a key to the success as he has melded a team of young, hungry players who will tackle themselves to a standstill.
Rennie has commented that if they can't get a big crowd into Waikato Stadium for Saturday night's clash with the Hurricanes they probably never will. He's right, the Chiefs deserve fans' support and on Saturday they will be up against a crowd pleaser – the Hurricanes whose 28 tries is more than anyone else's in the competition.
What better antidote is there for a Waikato sporting public dealing with the lingering disappointment of having seen the city's last V8s race?
Traditionally turning around and performing well after a trip back from South Africa is a tough task. Waikato people need to get along on Saturday and back their team who performed so heroically overseas.