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Chiefs 2018?

Larksea

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So the Renee/Cruden era is over and it was a good one. 2 ***les and in the finals mix every single year, that is some achievement i think on a whole during Renee's time as coach the Chiefs have been the best team in super rugby. Certainly no other team has won 2 ***les or made the finals each year over that time.

Renee has some really interesting habits with his players/squads.
Being able to pick guys out of NPC and somehow turn them into very good super rugby players.
Somehow being able to perform and win games with key players out injured.
His teams seem to have key players that almost always play, then around them there is a fair bit of rotation.

he sure has some interesting ways of working his squad and a lot can be learned from it.

But he's gone, Cruden is gone along with a whole raft of key performers and All Blacks. and there has to be some serious concern about what the heck is going to happen next season.

Gone are:
Cruden - needs no introduction really. Massive loss.
TKB - very good 9 with some unique traits, best defending 9 in super rugby by some margin and an excellent pass. His running game hasn't been as good as early in his career when he set the field alight but he will be missed.
Lowe - the best left winger in NZ rugby over the last 3-4 years, still young and just hitting his peak.
Michael Leitch - At their best the Cane, Messam, Leitch combo was hard to top.
Hika Elliot - long time chiefs hooker and former All Black.
Tom Sanders - no idea where he is going or why but he has been a solid performer and hes only 23. I think hes going overseas? I haven't heard that another NZ team has signed him.
Finlay Christie - this is an interesting loss. 21 years old he looks like an excellent prospect and there is already talk around about him being a future all black. he certainly lifted the chiefs tempo on attack when he came on and he seemed like a guy who would be very good for the chiefs going forward. I understand he is going to the Hurricanes. The chiefs have signed 2 new junior halfbacks but to be honest they dont seem anywhere near as promising as Christie.

Was also interesting to see that Donald hasn't been signed for next year. While not a regular starter anymore he's actually proven to be very valuable and will be tough to replace, was really interesting to see how well Donald and Cruden worked together on the field they would often be chatting non-stop and working well. considering they had a pretty bitter and tense rivalry for a while with Cruden the Manawatu 10 and Donald the Waikato 10 there were some tense games during that time which were basically a Donald vs. Cruden Showcase in the kinda games you dont really get these days with All Blacks not playing much ITM cup of at all! Chiefs haven't really given him an official farewell it may be he will eventually be signed but as of now he isn't contracted anywhere though he is keen to keep playing.

New Names that I know of...
Luke Jacobson - Good signing, NZ U20 captain.
Mitchell Jacobson - I'm not sure about this but I think he is joining his brother at the Chiefs??
Tiaan Falcon - from NZ U20's had a full season with the Magpies at 12 outside West but I think he's mostly a 10 and goal kicker.
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (TTT) - young halfback, started for the hurricanes vs. the Lions this year and looked ok.
Dwayne Sweeney - I believe he is signed for '18? old school chiefs player. He was an amazing ball carrier back in the day but also very frustrating as he lacked distribution and decision making skills. he played at the Brisbane 10's this year and while he looked out of shape he clearly hadn't lost any ball carrying ability and his speed was deceptive. basically looked like a prop but had a genuine turn of speed. Going to be interesting to see how he goes in ITM cup...

interesting wildcard signing
Tyler Ardron - Canadian loose forward?! No idea, apparently he's pretty good? :)

So Massive changes next year.
I may be missing some new names but its clear the chiefs need to get busy finding more talent.
And it hasn't gone well recently with unsuccessful attempts to lure Naholo and Seta Tamanivalu to Hamilton.
Its fair to say that the chiefs have lost big names, and as yet they haven't made any big name acquisitions which is a serious concern.

Brad Weber has been injured this whole season an he will likely start next year the chiefs #9 and be a critical player. Before his injury it was probably the Chiefs #1 halfback even though TKB was ahead of him in the test selection pecking order.
Damien McKenzie is almost certian to make a massive move from 15 to 10 for the chiefs. 10 is his natural/favored position but its a massive change considering the reputation he has now as a fullback. He is a vastly different 10 to Cruden and its going to change almost everything about the chiefs as if a change of coach wasn't enough.
That begs the question... who the heck is going to play fullback? That may fall to Sean Stephenson? very good prospect who has been very solid in his first couple of seasons considering he is still only 21. He was the player of the Brisbane 10's which may be a hint at his potential. he has been kinda the back 3 understudy this year so becoming the #1 15 will be a step up.
Staying on the subject of fullback, what the heck is going on with Glen Fisiiahi??? Will we see him in 2018?

The Tight 5 looks fairly stable and was very strong this year, that is one massive positive.
The loose forwards are going to be a big mix up but there is some stability with Cane and Messam still involved.
Midfield will still have ALB and Ngatai but question marks remain over who will back them up. Faauli is promising but needs a LOT of polish added to his game before he can be a regular. Beaver was Mr. Fix It this year and he isn't currently signed. Sam McNicol proved to be a consistent performer at 13 but is again under a head injury cloud as he was earlier this year...
Wing, Solomon Alaimalo is a massive prospect. In my opinion the chiefs rookie of the year and became a regular starter in the last half of the season. But the Loss of James Lowe leaves a massive whole that has yet to be filled and I'm not sure it can be filled with any existing squad members. Getting someone to fill this role is probably Coopers primary goal right now.

That leaves Cooper himself. Colin Cooper coached the hurricanes for a long time (03-2010) without much success even though he had a squad full of talented big name All Blacks. Since then he has been back with Taranaki and he did win a ***le in 2014, and made the semi's the last 2 years. But to be frank my initial impression is that I dont see Colin Cooper coaching a team to a super rugby ***le. I guess we will have to see...

The NZ conference is brutal... The team will have to be in excellent shape just to keep off the bottom of the NZ table. If they can't manage that... Progress in subsequent years is going to be an even greater struggle.
 

Pieter Steph du Teague

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What's your 23 like to be?
A back line of:
9. I don't know
10. DMac
11. Nanai-Williams
12. Ngatai
13. ALB
14. Pulu?
15. Stevenson
Is still very impressive especially considering who you're losing.
 

Larksea

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1, Hames
2, Harris
3, Laulala
4, Bird
5, Retalick
6, Brown
7, Cane
8, Messam
9, Weber
10, d'mac
11, Pulu
12, Ngatai
13, ALB
14, Alaimalo
15, Stephenson

there is the potential there for a strong 15 but there are also a lot of question marks, taken ~2-3 big name world class players out and replaced them with guys who are maybe good super rugby players.
A huge amount goes on the shoulders of Stephenson to perform week in week out, The Chiefs do need to find other options to cover 15 if he struggles or is injured.
Pulu is capable of brilliance but also inconstancy. There is a big experience loss with Cruden gone and the side will have to adjust.
the bigger problem is outside these top guys there isn't a lot of proven depth. A few guys like, Moli, Seu, Bochier, TNW, McNicol
As I said, serious concern over McNicol. Its less talked about but hes probably in a worse situation now with his head injury issues than Ngatai ever was. Very young and in his 2nd/3rd stint on the sidelines.

one guy I'm interested to see more of is Sosefo Kautai, massive young prop

basically, from a group of the 15 or so non-regular starters we will need a bunch of them to really lift their game to like fringe All Black level...

Cooper needs to pick up a couple of big signings from NPC
 

Caitlyn Jenner

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Despite the departures it's still a very well rounded and strong side... the new inside backs combo might end up being more dangerous than the last one. A marquee back 3 signing should definitely be a high priority for Cooper at this point... Pulu is a great athlete but imo just an OK rugby player, and while SS and Alaimalo are very promising they're still green and relatively unproven. I think signing just one player with established class in that back 3 would really complete the backline. I've thought for a while that Nanai would be the ideal guy to sign... Tana inexplicably refuses to start him at the Blues and he he's a great player with genuine X-Factor so a move to the Chiefs would benefit everyone involved imo.
I do get the feeling that this group of players may take a couple of seasons to gel and we might see a less successful Chiefs under Cooper... they have plenty of potential in that squad though so I wouldn't bet against them.
 

Larksea

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I think at this stage I'd be more likely to bet against them than for them. I can quite easily see the chiefs coming last in the NZ conference next year. Its so close between the teams that just a bit of a drop in performances will have big consequences on the table. The blues will be more settled and have been building. The Crusaders and hurricanes will be near the top of the table again next year. few question marks around the highlanders and the change of coaches there but they haven't lost anywhere near the player power the chiefs have.

Nanai is a name that came to my mind as well, he seems to be underutilized at the blues. He strikes me as an amazing talent that needs a kick up the arse every now and again, he needs to find a bit more focus and urgency.. He's got some serious skills but maybe doesn't work hard enough off the ball and gets a bit selfish. I picked him as a future AB a couple of years ago its been frustrating seeing his development stall.

Bottom line is Lowe and McKenzie were the two greatest meter men in super rugby. Chiefs need to find a player or two who can clock up big meters.
 

Caitlyn Jenner

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Nanai is a name that came to my mind as well, he seems to be underutilized at the blues. He strikes me as an amazing talent that needs a kick up the arse every now and again, he needs to find a bit more focus and urgency.. He's got some serious skills but maybe doesn't work hard enough off the ball and gets a bit selfish. I picked him as a future AB a couple of years ago its been frustrating seeing his development stall.
Absolutely agree. The class he posesses is so evident to see, just needs to be in the right set up and have the right attitude. He does come across a bit selfish at times, but tbf I reckon he's been a bit hard done by by Tana. I think a move to the Chiefs would be great for him and he could well become a star... he has the talent.
He was also in the ABs training squad in 2015 so they've clearly noted his ability... I still reckon he'll be an AB one day.

Lets remember too that Zac Guildford is playing for Waikato in the NPC... apparently he was really good in club footy this year. Maybe he'll see a revival?
 
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InsaneAsylum

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The Chiefs resigned Dwayne Sweeney for real?

Brings back memories of Kelleher, Leonard, Hill, Donald, Masaga, Anesi ...
 

Caitlyn Jenner

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Larksea

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Sweeney is looking leaner and fitter than he did at the 10's. i'm not sure I see enough from him yet to think he will be good enough to be a genuine midfield option for the chiefs.

I'm a bit miffed the chiefs haven't resigned Donald. He actually ended up being a very useful option, was excellent on defense and his attacking game started to come good towards the end of the season with some line breaks and slick passing.

midfield is a tricky situation at the chiefs because both Sam Mcnicol and Charlie Ngatai are under head injury clouds. Sam has had 3 stints on the sideline in the last couple of years with concussion issues, he had a good and suprising start to this season in midfield covering for Ngatai.

As for Savea, honestly I would be more interested in taking Ben Lam from the canes. He has kinda looked like he has started to find some more consistency and he's looked fast. Didn't get much game time for the canes.

I havn't seen any recent news on chiefs signings. Getting a few games into the NPC now. Waikato vs Auckland tonight I think. I think cooper needs to pickup players from the NPC you really dont get much time, you really have to focus on the first few rounds find the form/upcoming players as fast as you can and sign them...
 

TRF Mr Fish

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Sweeney is looking leaner and fitter than he did at the 10's. i'm not sure I see enough from him yet to think he will be good enough to be a genuine midfield option for the chiefs.

I'm a bit miffed the chiefs haven't resigned Donald. He actually ended up being a very useful option, was excellent on defense and his attacking game started to come good towards the end of the season with some line breaks and slick passing.

midfield is a tricky situation at the chiefs because both Sam Mcnicol and Charlie Ngatai are under head injury clouds. Sam has had 3 stints on the sideline in the last couple of years with concussion issues, he had a good and suprising start to this season in midfield covering for Ngatai.

As for Savea, honestly I would be more interested in taking Ben Lam from the canes. He has kinda looked like he has started to find some more consistency and he's looked fast. Didn't get much game time for the canes.

I havn't seen any recent news on chiefs signings. Getting a few games into the NPC now. Waikato vs Auckland tonight I think. I think cooper needs to pickup players from the NPC you really dont get much time, you really have to focus on the first few rounds find the form/upcoming players as fast as you can and sign them...

I haven't seen any official confirmation that Sweeney will be on the Chiefs' books for 2018.
 

Caitlyn Jenner

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If they're not signing Donald then what are their 1st 5 stocks gonna look like outside of DMac?

Mike Delany is and always has been a class player and is looking good for BOP, but he's 35...
 

TRF Mr Fish

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If they're not signing Donald then what are their 1st 5 stocks gonna look like outside of DMac?

Mike Delany is and always has been a class player and is looking good for BOP, but he's 35...

Tiaan Falcon from Hawke's Bay has been signed to back up McKenzie.
 

Caitlyn Jenner

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Tiaan Falcon from Hawke's Bay has been signed to back up McKenzie.
Ah that's right, forgot. He does look good. Still not lot of experience there though, I think a Delaney or Donald would be good to have in the squad.
 

NakiChief

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2018-19 will be a building season where the chiefs may struggle with a bit of depth in the backs. Their pack will match all going around probably only 2nd to a strong crusaders outfit. Look for additions of Naholo x 2 (possible tamanivalu?) next season and a few other backs. Real up and comer in their wider training group Pita 'Gus' Sowakula who will see plenty of minutes at #6 or #8 and turn plenty of heads. Top 6 finish this season with ***le hopes the following season (D-mac another season in the hot seat at #10).
 
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