Gatland keeping close eye on Chiefs’ progress

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Interim head coach Clayton McMillan said he had been in constant contact with Gatland, especially after games.

 

"He's busy up in the UK, but he's taken an active interest in what is going on here.

 

"I probably want to take this opportunity, I know there's been lots written in the media about the team going well, and he's been away.

 

"Our team is only going to be better for that man being involved in this environment," he said.

 

"I'm really happy that I'm leading the team this year in an interim role, but I always knew coming into this that it was going to be an interim role and that Gats is coming back. One of the real attractions for me was to work alongside a man of that experience.

 

"Absolutely nothing has changed and this environment will be all the better for him," he said.

 

As the side look to move closer to securing a Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa finals berth against the Hurricanes on Friday, it is with the knowledge that the in-form loose forward Luke Jacobson will be missing due to a head knock.

 

 

McMillan said his absence was more precautionary than being forced on them.

 

"He's in there in the gym this morning, [but] given his history of taking a few dings, we want to be extra cautious, but he's looking fine. He woke up on Sunday and felt a little dusty, so straight away, we ruled him out for the week.

 

"This little setback is timely, I think, because we probably would have considered giving him some time out either this week or next," he said.

 

Bryn Gatland will start at first five-eighths with Damian McKenzie returning to fullback.

 

"We were really stoked with how [McKenzie] played at 10 (first five-eighths) last week, but also equally happy with how Bryn did in the last game [coming off the bench]."

 

McMillan said he felt the Hurricanes had been unlucky, just as the Chiefs had been lucky. They had won games at the death this year, something they hadn't been able to do last year, and the Hurricanes were probably feeling now like the Chiefs did last year.

 

Captain Brad Weber said they knew how the Hurricanes would be feeling. The Chiefs felt that way last year.

 

"It's not going to be easy for us. If anything, that first game we had with them this year, was one of our more difficult ones. We really had to claw that one back at the end, so we know some of their potent attacking threats, and if they get stuff right, they'll be hard to stop," he said.

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