Reinforcements arrive for Chiefs
May 13, 2008
Reinforcements joined the frustrated Chiefs rugby team in Durban today but coach Ian Foster was still unsure what his team will look like in Sunday's all-important match against the Sharks.
All Blacks halfback Brendon Leonard, midfield back Murray Williams, prop Nathan White and hooker John Paeranga arrived at the team's hotel early today (NZ time), bringing a little excitement to the gloom around the team after two Super 14 losses.
With only a slim chance of making the playoffs now, the seventh-placed Chiefs meet the fifth-placed Sharks in this final round-robin which will decide which three teams join the Crusaders for the semifinals.
Injuries and suspension have disrupted the Chiefs preparation, with five players, including three props, flying home this week which will force numerous changes to the playing squad.
Suspended Ben May and fellow props Simms Davison (back injury) and Simon Lemalu (knee), reserve halfback David Bason and centre Richard Kahui (ankle) had left the team for home.
Other key players Sione Lauaki (hamstring), Sitiveni Sivivatu (Ankle) and Tom Willis (side strain) are still in doubt after leaving the field early in their 27-33 loss to the Lions Johannesburg on Sunday.
"Sione is improving all the time, whether it's quick enough I'm not sure yet," Foster said.
"Siti's ankle is getting better and again it's a little bit early yet to give a definite (answer) and Stephen Donald has a pretty sore neck, there is doubt about that.
"It's going to be difficult. There's no denying that it's been a pretty disruptive week but we had a good (training) session last night."
"While there's still hope there's a huge desire in the squad, and the acid's on us in the next three or four days to get our mental preparation right because it's going to be very hard to get our physical preparation right."
Foster has no doubt the match before a sold-out crowd and against a fired up team chasing a semifinal berth as well will be of playoff intensity.