McMillan calls upon Jacobson to lead Chiefs in Rebels encounter

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Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan has rested halfback Brad Weber who has led the side since original captain Sam Cane was ruled out of the campaign. But McMillan said Jacobson, who had captaincy credits coming through the grades, was ready for the task.

"Probably like anyone in a leadership position, he walks the talk first and foremost," he said.

"He's been playing some outstanding rugby. I thought he was immense last week when the chips were down, he led the charge to try and get us back in the game.

“He's got a presence in the group, he's only a young guy, but it feels like he's been around a lot longer. He's composed with his messaging, has huge respect in our group.”

Clayton McMillan

"So he's the logical choice. He's going to be the captain of the Chiefs at some stage in the future, there's no doubt about it," he said.

The Rebels would offer a test for the less experienced Chiefs side named for the game, and McMillan said the side would need to be focused.

Being out of the hunt for a finals berth, McMillan has looked to introduce some of the squad's less experienced players with some insurance from a strong bench for later in the game.

Sean Wainui and Tom Florence joined the squad from New Zealand after Damian McKenzie (suspended) and Liam Messam (family commitment) flew home.

Reuben O'Neill will start at loosehead prop alongside Samisoni Taukei'aho, who returns as hooker. Josh Lord will lock with Mitchell Brown dropping back onto the substitutes' bench.

Halfback Xavier Roe will make his starting debut with Bryn Gatland outside him, while Kaleb Trask will start at fullback.

McMillan said the goal was still to finish the season on a high, and that would be if they could secure two more wins.

"If we earn the right to be able to play some expansive Chiefs' rugby, then we'll do that.

"But we found when we played the Force, as an example, if you start getting a bit too loose early, you don't earn that right. Then, sometimes, you can get a bit sloppy, errors start to creep in, you allow the opposition to stay in the game longer than what you anticipate, and then it becomes a real dogfight.

"And the old Aussies, they don't mind getting up for a bit of a scrap," he said.

"To suggest we were just going to throw the ball around would be detrimental to our own performance and disrespectful to the opposition," he said.

The Chiefs will stay on in Australia to play their final game against the Waratahs.

McMillan said that moving the Rebels game to Sunday, meant that it would be Monday afternoon or evening before they got back to New Zealand.

"That would only give us a couple of days back home, and then we'd find ourselves on a plane back to Sydney. That doesn't make sense, so we stay on the road a little bit longer," he said.

"We've all learnt that Covid-19 is a challenge, and you need to be prepared to adapt, and change, and, as I keep saying, roll with the punches."


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