Chiefs looking to 'empty tank' against Hurricanes

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Coach Clayton McMillan said the Hurricanes' success was no surprise. The two sides had followed a similar path, having lost a couple of experienced players but with squads that had been together for several seasons.

"Some young players are starting to emerge and are playing an exciting brand of rugby. They look well-coached and clear on their goals.

"Down in Wellington they will be a tough proposition but it's a challenge I'm sure the guys will be up for. We can empty the tank with the bye the following week."

They were also getting many players back from injury, and they have been through a lot of their All Blacks rest requirement for the first part of the season.

McMillan said the side learned lessons from their game with the Highlanders a few weeks ago when they had a similar lead at halftime. They were disappointed with their second half in that outing, but on Saturday, they kept control for long periods and didn't get loose as they had in the past.

"Our performances this year have been moments of brilliance matched with some pretty ordinary stuff. This was a game that could have gone pear-shaped if we got loose and allowed them to come back into the game, which we didn't do."

While it had been a record 56-point winning margin for the Chiefs [surpassing the 51-point margin against the Sunwolves in 2018], it wasn't something they would make a big deal of.

"We made quite a few changes today, and they were missing many of their front-line players, so we have to put it all in perspective.

"It's about putting out a performance we can be proud and is a stepping stone to where we want to get to."

Adding to the success were the performances of players who hadn't played regularly but had some good moments to put selection pressure on ahead of the next few weeks.

Loose forward Wallace Sititi took his chance after having to bide his time behind more experienced players, and McMillan said he was outstanding in backing up the pre-season form he had shown in Japan.

Replacement prop Sione Ahio was another to impress, and scoring a try with his first touch of the ball was something he would never forget.

"He's come through the Auckland system, New Zealand Under-20s and we like his cut. He's a young man, still learning his craft, but he's keen to learn. I like his attitude."

McMillan said while the scoreline didn't flatter Moana Pasifika, he felt they had improved and had seen the game as a chance to give several players game time.

"As much as they want to go out and win every game, I'm sure they are targetting specific games where they want to have their best players on the park. As we're seeing with our team, and with every other team, it's near on impossible to keep rolling out the same guys and expect the level of performance to stay at a high level. They'll be disappointed the scoreline blew out."


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