Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper has rejected claims that his dressing room is split after a horrendous run of results to open his side’s 2019 Super Rugby campaign.
An array of defensive lapses and handling errors has cost the side dearly in their opening four fixtures, and they head into their round five clash against the Hurricanes in Hamilton this weekend without a win.
Particular lowlights have been conceding 50 points to both the Brumbies and Crusaders, while a first-ever defeat at the hands of the Sunwolves proved to be an embarrassing result for the two-time champions.
While the Waikato franchise’s season seems destined to fail before it even got going, Cooper has quashed notions that his squad are divided as a result of their poor start to the season.
“We work really hard on feedback and we’ve got good leaders in the group that will keep tapping in with us as coaches and making sure that we’re all aligned and in the same waka,” he told NZME’s Radio Sport.
Cooper also said he and his team still believed that they will be in contention for the play-offs come the business end of the season.
It would be a big ask given that no side has ever reached the knockout stages of the competition after opening their season with four consecutive losses.
Player have since jumped to the defence of Cooper, who has come under harsh criticism for guiding the Chiefs to their worst start since 2007.
Loose forward Mitchell Brown reinforced his coach’s sentiments, telling the New Zealand Herald that everyone involved needs to be held accountable for the Chiefs’ uncharacteristically poor start to the season.
“I think he’s probably unfairly copping a lot of the blame,” Brown said.
“At the end of the day it comes down to the players on the field and how we perform so we’ve just got to go out there and do our jobs.”
The Chiefs have named a re-jigged side in a bid to secure their first win of the year, with regular first-five Damian McKenzie shifting to fullback, as his older brother Marty McKenzie slots into the chief playmaking role.
The Hurricanes head into the contest with three wins from four outings, including back-to-back victories over the Brumbies and Highlanders within the past fortnight.
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