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Chiefs Find Relief in Hamilton Venue Change Ahead of Clash with Fijian Drua

Chiefs Find Relief in Hamilton Venue Change Ahead of Clash with Fijian Drua

All BlacksMarch 15, 2024

Playing Fijian Drua in Hamilton rather than Lautoka in their DHL Super Rugby Pacific game on Saturday is a relief for the Chiefs as they attempt to bounce back from last week's first loss of the season to the Reds.

Coach Clayton McMillan said that before the competition started this year, one of the first things he did when the draw was released was to see where they would play the Drua.

"On one hand, I'd love to go to Fiji and enjoy their hospitality, but it is a bloody tough place to play."

While the Chiefs bear had been poked as a result of their loss to the Reds, they had also seen what the Drua did to beat the Crusaders.

"They're [Drua] particularly hard to beat over there, but they've also demonstrated a much improved performance and mindset. They are a much harder team to break down. You have to go the full 80 minutes and if you clock off at any stage you're going to make life tough for yourself."

McMillan said the loss had a silver lining when a review required a spotlight on several aspects of their play.

"I won't go into too much detail about them; it might give our foes a little ammunition. But we've reviewed the 10 days away and come up with some good solutions.

"So, we'll see this week whether those we've taken have made an impact."

A feature of the competition was that it evolved quickly, with teams doing a lot of analysis on opponents.

"You can get away with running some similar stuff for two or three weeks. And then, you need to change so that you're always keeping your competitors on their toes and keeping your environment fresh while challenging everyone to learn.

McMillan said the improvement of Australian sides this year was built on the lift they achieved over the last two or three years.

"This year they've taken a decent step forward and that's fantastic for the competition. It balances out the points table."

In recent years, the Brumbies had a monopoly among Australian teams, but now that teams were knocking each other over, it was more similar to New Zealand.

Centre Anton Lienert-Brown said the team's start on their tour had seen them do well against the Brumbies but trip up against the Reds.

"It tells us there is still a lot to work on so early in the season.

"It is sometimes good to look in the mirror and make those adjustments."

Putting those adjustments into action will be well-tested against the rising Drua.

If you could breed a rugby player, it would be a Fijian rugby player. They're born to play the team.

"They've got better as a team. They've been in the competition for a couple of years now, and they're growing continuity. They're getting better at set-piece and it makes them a dangerous beast.

"Defensively, it's going to be a massive job for us."

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