McMillan very wary of hurting Hurricanes

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Coach Clayton McMillan said Moana, who had lifted their game, had done the Chiefs no favours.

"The Hurricanes will be hurting. Without disrespecting Moana, they would have seen that as an opportunity to win. They started well and threatened to break out but it shows you the resilience of Moana, that didn't happen," he said.

"They would have reviewed the game and seen lots of opportunities to be better, demanded a lift in intensity across the board, more accurate, more urgent and so it is going to be a tough old game."

McMillan rejoined the squad on Tuesday after recovering from Covid, something that forced him to leave the Chiefs' team in the coaching group's hands. He had no involvement in the orchestration on the night and was happy to sit back and watch from the comfort of home.

The way the Chiefs were beaten at the breakdown, an area they felt had been a good part of their game ahead of the Crusaders, was disappointing, flanker and captain Sam Cane said.

"There's no doubt they targeted that area but some of the key fundamentals that we had been doing so well we slackened off on.

"There are so many different components to the breakdown going well. The ball carriers getting better gain line, then making more of an effort to place the ball back on our side so it's not available for people to get their hands on. Cleaners being accurate and getting there quicker to nullify any contests.

"So, it's not often just one thing, but a couple of little things that can accumulate and make a difference.

"I'm pretty confident we'll sort it out," he said.

McMillan said that now having to play 12 consecutive games without a bye which they had in round two, was countered by them not having to play the catch-up games that other teams had faced.

"In comparison to some of our competitors we're probably in a pretty good space," he said.

Being without lock Brodie Retallick with a broken finger was a loss, and while they had locks to back up, Retallick was respected by opponents.

"He can use this as an opportunity to get back to the Hawke's Bay and spend a couple of weeks with his family and get a mental and physical refresher before he comes back," he said.

Getting No8 Pita Gus Sowakula back was a boost, while centre Anton Lienert-Brown had recovered from injury.

Alex Nankiville, who McMillan rated as one of the side's most consistent performers, is on the wing for the game.

"He did a great job marking Leicester [Fainga'anuku] against the Crusaders and will do a good job against [Julian] Savea or Wes [Goosen] I think," he said.

While the side broke their long-running losing streak last year in Wellington, McMillan said he still ranked it one of the harder places to win.

It had a unique stadium, the conditions were often not the greatest, and the Hurricanes always had a good squad who provided an all round test.

"We need to be significantly better than we were on the weekend to give ourselves a chance," he said.


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