Gatland's Chiefs make most of fitness advantage

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That's especially the case when injuries were considered, but so well have they started this year, coach Warren Gatland, in comparison to those who filled the role before him, can claim to have the opposite, a fitness crisis with so many players to choose from.

 

"We've got 40-odd training at the moment with the extra numbers we have got in so that takes a bit of managing. The nice place that we're in, we've got a couple of All Blacks props who are out injured [Nepo Laulala and Angus Ta'avao] and they've seen how well the team are going and are desperate to get back in. 

 

"So there's some real competition to be there and players know they've got to make the most of their chances and opportunities because if they don't the team's been going pretty well and there's potentially others who make the most of the chances they get," he said.

 

With the Brumbies in mind they had looked at countering their rolling lineout maul while also looking to reduce the effects of their scrum and power runners.

 

 

To achieve that Sam Cane will start on the openside flank with Luke Jacobson on the blindside and Pita Gus Sowakula starting at No.8

 

"We played Sam a couple of times at No 8 but I probably pushed it quite hard that he is the All Blacks No 7 at the moment, so we probably need to see him at No 7 and give him that opportunity there, even though he is more comfortable playing anywhere in that back row," Gatland said.

 

"The way the back row play is going you've got to have players who are versatile and Lachie [Boshier] has been going from six to seven and been fantastic. Mitchell Karpik has been going great for us as well, so we've got great strength in depth there.

 

"Luke gets an opportunity," he said. That was because the Brumbies would come with some physicality and with Cane and Sowakula alongside him they had that.

 

"We've done our homework and hopefully we can negate their scrum, lineout drive and power runners, especially Tevita Kuridrani, getting across the gain line.

 

"The Highlanders last week stayed in the battle, and stayed in the arm wrestle and got an opportunity and stayed in and won the game. We know it's going to be tight and physical and we've got to be smart with how we play," he said.

 

As a result of the Brumbies suffering a mumps infection, meaning four starting players couldn't make the trip, Gatland said his medical team said all the Chiefs players were up to date with vaccinations and they would good to go for the game.

 

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