Chiefs' ABs return for Reds pre-season hit-out

BEN STRANG
Last updated 05:00 08/02/2014
Sam Cane
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SAM CANE: "I suppose even after the first title in 2012, the public and media weren't 100 per cent behind us but this year I think we might be rated as favourites, so it's a little bit of a different area for us."

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A handful of All Blacks will get their first match action for the Chiefs tonight, playing a star-studded Reds team in Queensland.

Co-captain Aaron Cruden will lead the side in Toowoomba, while Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Brodie Retallick are also expected to take the field.

The Reds will field an impressive unit of their own, with eight Wallabies named to play in the match, including Quade Cooper and Will Genia.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has had some of his All Blacks back since last week, and said this will be the first match practice for them on returning to the squad.

"They will make the trip, and we've got a couple of others back from injury who will play, and we'll get a few more back over the next few weeks," Rennie said.

"They've had the wood on us the last couple of years. They're pretty well-oiled, they've been together for a few years now, so it'll be a good test for us."

Last weekend the Chiefs brought in players from provincial unions and ran a match situation drill, which the All Blacks sat out.

Rennie said the match was a useful exercise because it allowed his team to fine-tune certain situations, and stop the game to re-run set plays that didn't go to plan.

Tonight will be a step up, with both teams looking to get a good result from the match, even if nothing rides on the result.

Rennie said the team was expecting high temperatures for the match, but he hopes the 6.30pm Australian time kickoff means it won't be too hot.

"I think one day it was 39, and another day it was 28, a low 28. It's a 6.30pm kickoff, and knowing Queensland this time of the year it will almost be dark, so it shouldn't be too bad." The Chiefs have also been boosted by the addition of Mils Muliaina to the squad this week.

Tonight's match will be played in four 20-minute quarters. Each team will have a 28-man squad with unlimited substitutions.

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- Waikato Times

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