Sonny Bill's return for 2015 to boost Chiefs
July 20, 2014
Brumbies 32-30 Chiefs (video available in Australia only)
Despite their disappointing two-point 32-30 loss to the Brumbies on Saturday, the Chiefs were heartened to receive a good luck message via video from Sonny Bill Williams before the match, but the side realises there was no substitute for having the cross-code superstar appearing in person next season.
It didn't take long for Williams' imminent return to New Zealand rugby to be raised on Saturday night and coach Dave Rennie admitted it would be hugely beneficial to have the cross-code star back in inside centre for 2015.
"Sonny sent a message to the boys wishing them all the best and obviously we're looking forward to getting him back," Rennie said. "We're a pretty small backline without him and Richard Kahui [who left for Japan at the end of last season]. We brought Robbie Fruean in to perhaps do that job for us but it hasn't eventuated."
The Chiefs were without any physically dominant backs throughout the season and ended the season with a record eight wins, seven losses and two draws. Aaron Cruden, Tim Nanai-Williams, Dwayne Sweeney, Bundee Aki and Gareth Ascombe hardly tip the scales as imposing forms, whereas Williams' huge figure will be the much needed physical figure in the back line and a welcome boost as the Chiefs rebuild.
"To have Sonny back next year will give us a little bit of size. We'll look forward to that, it allows you to play a different style of game," said Rennie.
Although the Brumbies quickly gained a 22-3 over the Chiefs during a dominant opening quarter, Rennie was still impressed with the group as they fought back to raise the prospect of extra time until Cruden missed a sideline conversion with less than four minute remaining.
"I'm still really proud of the group. Obviously we lost a fair bit of experience last year and we've got some good young guys coming through," he said. "They'll benefit from playing in a knock out match like that and hopefully be better for it next year."
The Brumbies moved out to an early 22-3 lead after a dominant early quarter © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd