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Chiefs halfback Cortez Ratima on how he fares in All Black race

By Adam Julian
Cortez Ratima of the Chiefs celebrates after scoring a try during the round ten Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and Chiefs at Allianz Stadium, on April 26, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

In the penultimate round of Super Rugby Pacific on Friday the Chiefs were beaten by the Hurricanes 20-17 in Hamilton conceding 15 of the last 16 penalties.

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By any measure such disciplinary issues are a disaster and perhaps reflective of a team that hasn’t learned the lessons of 2023 where they imploded in the final under the stringent whistle of Ben O’Keefe.

Chiefs halfback Cortez Ratima didn’t incur the wrath of officialdom in either match but was right in the heart of the battle against the Hurricanes jousting with veteran TJ Perenara. The two are leading contenders for the All Blacks.

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“I don’t think I went too bad. Every week is about nailing my role and then looking for opportunities,” Ratima told RugbyPass.

“It was a tough game because it felt like we were defending three-quarters of the time, and if you give away that many penalties it makes life difficult.

“I leave it up to the leaders to deliver key messages around discipline but there is an onus on individuals making the right decisions. The margins are small, different in each game, we’ve got to be better.”

Few have been better than Ratima in 2024. Despite stiff competition from Xavier Roe, he’s started eight of a possible 12 matches and scored eight tries.

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“The competition between all three halfbacks is healthy. We all get on but bring different styles and compete hard,” Ratima observed.

“My time at Hamilton Boys’ High School taught me hard work. We trained mornings and afternoons, too much sometimes, but it prepared me for the demands of professional rugby.”

Ratima was born and raised on a sheep and beef farm in Piopio, 23 km from Te Kuiti. His father Peter-Lee played for King Country, the same stomping ground as Dame Farah Palmer and ‘Pinetree,’ Sir Colin Meads.

Cortez is named after the famous Nike sports shoe developed by Bill Bowerman, an American track and field coach and co-founder of Nike, Inc. who over his career trained 31 Olympic athletes, 51 All-Americans, 12 American record-holders, 22 NCAA champions and 16 sub-4 minute milers.

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It fits the tenacious, relentless halfback who bench presses 170kg, nearly double his body weight.

Ratima debuted for Waikato two years out of Hamilton Boys’ in 2020. In 2021 he started for Waikato in their 23-20 NPC Premiership final win against Tasman. He has played 38 games for the Mooloos, the same number with the Chiefs (28 wins).

He hopes to emulate Tawera Kerr-Barlow as another Super Rugby-winning Hamilton Boys’ All Blacks halfback.

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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Comments

4 Comments
A
Andrew 21 days ago

Am a great fan but was appalled by his absence or slow arrival at some rucks in that last game where he wasnt caught up.

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Troy 21 days ago

Ratima's natural combination with D Mac should give him the starters berth, leaving the more experienced Fakatava to come on when needed. If Razor is as forward thinking as they say then Perenara should be yesterday's man. He's had his go and his game hasn't adapted or improved. Hotham should be next in line until Roigard is back. If he continues to improve he could leapfrog the others and become deputy to Roigard such is his rapid rise. We're looking real good for halfbacks.

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T-Bone 21 days ago

This is a tough choice for Razor
Lots of competition at halfback
With Roigard out until I guess the EOYT I’d start TJ and then have the guile of Fakatava
So tough though, there is the strength and support play of Ratima and the speed of Hotham

Of course Christie is back and while much maligned you can’t throw away experience

Loosies are the other areas where there is a plethora of options

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Flankly 15 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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