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Ex-All Black calls on Chiefs to keep ‘ramping things up’ before playoffs

By Finn Morton
Damian McKenzie and the Chiefs celebrate scoring the try. Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images

After surviving a scare against the Melbourne Rebels last time out, the Chiefs need to keep “ramping things up” in Super Rugby Pacific before the playoffs according to former All Blacks fullback Mils Muliaina.

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With the scores locked at 23-all, Chiefs and All Blacks first five Damian McKenzie overcame the pressure of that moment to convert a 78th-minute penalty which saw the visitors sneak by the Rebels 26-23 at AAMI Park.

While the win was unconvincing, it’s what the Chiefs were after. The Hamilton-based outfit is currently fourth on the ladder but could rise to as high as second if two results go their way in round 14.

If the Brumbies beat the Rebels, then the New Zealanders could potentially sit as high as second before the final round – but that’s out of their control. The Chiefs will be firmly focused on the challenge waiting for them when they take on the Hurricanes.

Coach Clayton McMillan has named a settled starting side with zero changes after the win over Melbourne. Rugby World Cup-winning All Black Mils Muliaina said it was a “really nice” look for the Chiefs before finals.

“If you look at it… I think he’s really rotated a little bit and given the guys a few chances,” Muliaina said on Stan Sports’ The Call Up.

“As they’ve come back (and) they’ve ramped things up.

“They’ve survived this scare, it was a really good game and they won. They’ll be happy with it.

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“Now they understand what’s in place and what’s really important for Clayton McMillan and the Chiefs is ramping things up heading towards those finals.”

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
3
Draws
0
Wins
2
Average Points scored
25
21
First try wins
100%
Home team wins
40%

The Chiefs may have gone with a consistent lineup this week but it’s a different story for their opponents. Hurricanes coach Clark Laidlaw has made 11 changes to the run-on side alone after last week’s hard-fought win over Moana Pasifika.

Playmaker Jordie Barrett will captain a Hurricanes side that boasts talent, skill and potential across the board. Raymond Tuputupu, Justin Sangster, Devan Flanders and Kini Naholo are the only players who’ve retained their spots in the First XV.

As the race for a spot in the coveted top two continues to heat up, this is nothing short of a must-win game for the Hurricanes. The men from New Zealand’s capital are second on the ladder and won’t want to give that up before the playoffs.

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“It’s a great tale of what both coaches are able to do,” former Wallaby Morgan Turinui added in response to Muliaina’s comments.

“The Hurricanes have been better than anyone this year in rotating their team and winning.

“They did what needed to be done against Moana.

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“You see some of the names… (Xavier) Numia is back in, (Peter) Lakai has been outstanding, (TJ) Perenara of course alongside (Brett) Cameron back at 10. Jordie Barrett is skipper and then the back three players, two back in there with (Josh) Moorby and (Ruben) Love who have been so effective.

“The Hurricanes, they had their rest week last week. This is going to be a marquee performance for them.

“The Chiefs… I think no matter what happens (coach Clayton McMillan) will rest some players next week. It lines up quite nicely for the Chiefs.”

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