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Chiefs player ratings vs highlanders | Super Rugby Pacific

By Ned Lester
Sam Cane with ball in hand for the Chiefs. Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images

The Highlanders and Chiefs have started their 2023 Super Rugby Pacific campaigns with polar opposite results, the Chiefs have claimed two bonus point wins over the first two rounds while the Highlanders have seen their opposition claim bonus point wins.


Super Rugby’s win predictor sat at 84% in favour of the Chiefs for this match, and the Highlanders started the match with a kickoff going out on the full which didn’t elevate hopes of an upset.

The Highlanders however showed improved accuracy at set piece time and handled the Chiefs’ varied attack well to run into the sheds with a halftime score of 8-0.

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The rain came in for the second half and a yellow card to Shannon Frizzel saw the Chiefs come to life for that 10-minute period.

The contest was a physical one and the Highlanders suffered, adding more players to an already lengthy injury list in 2023, even finishing the game with Aaron Smith playing at first five.

A final score of 28-7 was a fair reflection of a tough battle in Hamilton.

Here’s how the Chiefs rated:


1. Aidan Ross – 7

Dropped the ball cold on a Highlanders overthrow at the lineout. Penalties went both ways at scrum time but Ross looked to have the better of his opposite when the platforms were strong.

2. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 9

Taukei’aho is just a cheat code for front foot ball. He was penalised for rolling with ball in hand early but otherwise another extraordinary performance from the hooker.


3. John Ryan – 7

Ryan proved to be a willing contributor to the Chiefs’ rapid gameplan on attack, stepping in at halfback a couple of times and displaying some decent distribution skills. Also a solid game at set piece time.

4. Brodie Retallick – 8

Held his own in some heavy contact and provided the tidy set-piece performance you’d expect from the All Black veteran.

5. Tupou Vaa’i – N/A

Off early.

6. Naitoa Ah Kuoi – 7

One or two disciplinary issues but an energetic performance from the agile utility forward.

7. Sam Cane – 7.5

Won a turnover and got through a mountain of work defensively as always. Very unlucky to be yellow-carded.

8. Luke Jacobson – 8

Went flying into the defensive contact with intent, often missing his target in the early passages. Controlled that enthusiasm as the game wore on and had a very positive influence for the Chiefs.

9. Brad Weber – 8

Penalised for blocking early, giving the Highlanders their first opportunity at points. Was on song for all of the Chiefs’ attacking variations and picked his moments well to run, making plenty of meters.

10. Damian McKenzie – 8

Picked up where he left off over the opening two rounds with some dynamic carries. Excellent start to the kicking game and was pulling strings and manipulating the Highlanders’ defence. Missed touch twice and had a shocking night off the tee by McKenzie’s standards.

11. Etene Nanai-Seturo – 7.5

Hit the gap perfectly for the game’s opening try. Had a few more touches in this match than last week and showed impressive physicality along with his pace. A bit too trigger-happy with the chip-through kicks given the shaky execution.

12. Rameka Poihipi – 8

Poihipi is blossoming in the midfield with so many attacking threats to combine with. Often used to take it to the line and straighten up the attack but offered some nice distribution skills including a superb no look try assist to Shaun Stevenson.

13. Alex Nankivell – 8

Another strong all-around performance from Nankivell,

14. Emoni Narawa – 7.5

Got a few opportunities to get his footwork going and beat defenders.

15. Shaun Stevenson – 8.5

A sloppy first touch gifted the Highlanders possession in a good spot. Again electric with ball in hand with some physical influences on defence. Two tries tonight added to his league-leading tally for the season.



16. Bradley Slater – 7

17. Ollie Norris – 7.5

Norris’ agility and skillset opportunities to shine in Super Rugby are few and far between, but you can see his athleticism in the way he bounces off the ground after contact and attacks the ruck and that’s a unique attribute for this Chiefs side to posess.

18. George Dyer – 7

19. Samipeni Finau – 8

On early and quickly penalised but never relinquished his intensity, sprinting into contact from the backfield and putting all his weight into the collisions.

20. Pita Gus Sowakula – 7.5

21. Cortez Ratima – 8

22. Josh Ioane – 7

23. Daniel Rona – 7.5

An impressive debut for Rona, a great influence on both sides of the ball.


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