The more things change, the more they stay the same. Although the Chiefs will be taking part in the brand new Super Rugby Aotearoa competition for the remainder of the season, their growing injury toll remains consistent with the problems they’ve faced since Super Rugby’s inception way back in 1996.
In the front end of this year’s regular competition, men like Angus Ta’avao, Atu Moli and Damian McKenzie spent time on the sidelines through injury while Nathan Harris was ruled out for the season before the first match even kicked off. Yesterday, it was announced that new All Blacks captain Sam Cane will also miss the opening match of the Aotearoa competition.
With Brodie Retallick on a sabbatical, Allardice has carried a heavy load for the Chiefs in 2020 and was the only experienced out-and-out lock in the squad, with Tyler Ardron also spending much of the season in the second row despite typically playing in the loose forwards. Allardice has undergone shoulder reconstruction surgery.
McWhannell, meanwhile, is in his second season with the Chiefs but is still yet to earn any minutes due to a torrid run of injuries – the latest requiring a patellar tendon debridement.
Had a chat with @ChiefsRugby fly in the bottle Damian McKenzie today about the hard yards at home during lockdown, being a senior player in the team, and how everything's shaping up in Hamilton ahead of #SuperRugbyAotearoa.
— Michael Pulman ????? (@realmikepulman) June 9, 2020
Young Taranaki second-rower Tupou Vaa’i, who was a member of last year’s New Zealand Under 20 squad, has now officially joined the side and will back-up the likes of Ardron and his Under 20s teammate Naitoa Ah Kuoi.
No replacements have been made for Moli (who will undergo FAI surgery on both left and right hips due to chronic hip dysfunction) or McNicol (ankle surgery) who are both in the final years of their contracts with the Chiefs and New Zealand Rugby.
McNicol has fought his way back from many an injury since his Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes back in 2015 but the latest set-back will be even more frustrating for the talented utility, given he is potentially fighting for a contract for next season.
The Chiefs kick-off their Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday evening.
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