Luke Jacobson's leadership litmus test against Crusaders

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The former New Zealand Under-20 captain, Jacobson, has stepped into the role vacated by All Blacks flanker Sam Cane.

Heading into a new campaign, Jacobson said there was a lot of excitement in the camp, not only because it was round one but because they were continuing their rivalry with the Crusaders.

"Regardless of who we're playing this weekend, a win is important to get our campaign underway. It's not the be-all and end-all, but we've put a lot of effort into our pre-season so that we're in the right spot for round one."

It didn't matter how up to strength the opposition was; the Chiefs still prepared the same, and while there might be some focus on an opponent, most of the focus was on the individuals in the Chiefs doing what they needed to do.

"We know when we play the sort of rugby we want to play, we're a hard team to stay with."

All teams had changes with slightly less experienced players, but teams also had areas of strength and weakness they needed to be aware of.

It would be a different side for the Chiefs with no Sam Cane or Brodie Retallick.

But during the pre-season, the side had been feeling its way under his leadership, and Jacobson said players had been finding their voices and developing as leaders.

Having captained at other levels and occasionally for the Chiefs, he didn't feel uncomfortable in his role.

"I've learned that you can lean on other people and don't have to do it all or say it all. We've got a good coaching management group as well and that takes a lot of load off."

He was confident that Tupou Va'ai was set to take on the sort of Retallick role in the side.

"He's learned to throw his body around, so we'll see some big things from him this year. Samipeni Finau. He's a big body, and he'll be throwing that around. But, there's nobody who's going to go out there and replace Brodie, but all of us in the forward pack have to go out there with that aggression that he's set the bar for.

Chiefs v Crusaders: Friday 23 February, 7.05pm NZT, FMG Stadium Waikato


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