Chiefs take time to relax and reflect
There was no victory parade for the Chiefs class of 2014, but that didn't stop them raising a glass to another hard-fought season.
A narrow loss to the Brumbies on Saturday ended their season and hopes of a Super Rugby three-peat, but the mood was buoyant at the Hamilton Speight's Alehouse on Monday.
There were whoops, whistles and at least one shirt off as the team got together to down a few cold ones at the bar.
Co-captain Liam Messam acknowledged it was a stark contrast to the mood after Saturday's game.
''You could just see after the game the boys' faces, and in the changing room was a pretty sombre mood. We worked so hard for it, but I suppose that's footy,'' he said.
''It's disappointing. Our goal at the start of the season was to win and we fell short.''
But he could see that disappointment driving the team harder next time around. And though the on-field end to the season wasn't what they'd hoped for, the off-field wind-down was ''the way a team should finish'', Messam said.
''It is pretty stressful during the season. You work so hard and you're always on the grind. So the next few weeks is a time just to chill out and reflect,'' he said.
''This week ... we're saying goodbye to some of our real close mates and I think that's probably our strongest thing in this team, is the culture we have. So times like these, especially today, is about getting around boys that are leaving and just having a good time, and unwinding.''
So a side of quality time was served up with the chill-out time, drinks and a feed.
Recent reports were that Tanerau Latimer, Mils Muliaina, Bundee Aki, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Mahonri Schwalger, Kane Thompson, Dwayne Sweeney and Gareth Anscome were all leaving the franchise, mostly to play overseas.
But business time still wasn't over, as season reviews were set to take place over the rest of the week, Messam said.
And as for next season, ''Next year will happen when it comes... The fire's gonna be there.''