Tawera Kerr-Barlow says actions speak louder than words, and he and the Chiefs proved it last Friday.
While the Chiefs have talked for weeks about what they were doing wrong and what they had to put right, it was not until that 24-16 victory over the Hurricanes that they put it into practice and ended a three-match losing streak, just in time to keep their Super Rugby playoff hopes alive.
All Blacks halfback Kerr-Barlow also had a point to prove going into the match, having missed out on the No 9 jersey against the Highlanders the week before and having the acid put on him by the coaches to step his game up after not getting any playing time in the All Blacks' three-test series against England.
"I was quite happy with the way I played at the weekend - it's a much easier job for a halfback when the forwards are doing the job up front and I thought they were fantastic," Kerr-Barlow said.
"They laid a good platform for me to get in there and distribute and dab a couple of times, so I really enjoyed it.
"I hadn't played for quite a while so I was really fizzing to get on there and was really excited." Now he can't wait to take on the Blues at Eden Park - a traditional derby for the Chiefs.
"I can't wait for the game this week, so we'll see what happens in terms of selection and wherever I am I'll do my best for the team when required."
Kerr-Barlow said the Chiefs players had never lost their self-belief but the fact they, as a team, were having to reach the playoffs the hard way was a new challenge they were thriving on.
"It's good, it brings the best out in everyone, so we'll keep training hard here at Ruakura. I've said all year there's a lot of self-belief in this outfit and when we bring our attitudes along and work hard for each other, we play like we did last Friday.
"We're taking it a game at a time.
"There is a lot of self-belief but we've got to go up to Auckland to do a job there before we can think of any other games to come."
Such was the closeness of this year's competition that no team, other than the top-of-the-table Waratahs' current six-match winning streak, had been able to dominate. "It's fantastic for the spectators and I think there's been a lot of good rugby, a lot of tries scored, especially at this back end of the competition, but if it's the hard way it's the hard way and we're focusing on going up and beating the Blues this week," Kerr-Barlow said.
There was a noticeable spring in the step of the Chiefs players at training yesterday after their first win in eight weeks. "The boys played really well at the weekend and the forwards took another step up in terms of their physicality which got us across the line.
"There are still things we need to improve on but actions speak louder than words, so it's about getting out there and doing it at training so we can go into the Blues match carrying a little bit of an edge," Kerr-Barlow said.
- Waikato Times
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