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'Get him back in the midfield': Chiefs set to end Quinn Tupaea's wing stint

By Alex McLeod
Photo: Jeremy Ward / www.photosport.nz

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Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan says Quinn Tupaea is likely to shift back to the midfield after a brief spell on the wing for the Hamilton-based franchise.

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Tupaea has flourished on the left wing in two consecutive matches for the Chiefs, using his power to bag a brace of tries against the Waratahs in Melbourne last week before helping his side to a tense 27-25 victory over the Reds in Brisbane on Friday.

The 22-year-old played a key role in ensuring the Chiefs walked away from Suncorp Stadium with a win by making a desperate second half tackle on Fraser McReight to stop the Reds flanker dead in his tracks as the tryline beckoned.

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That might be as good as it gets for Tupaea’s flirtation with the No 11 jersey, though, as Chiefs boss Clayton McMillan revealed after the win over the Reds that the “stopgap” measure of playing the seven-test international there may have run its course.

“I’m really happy for him. He’s taken a bit of flak for probably being the slowest winger in Super Rugby, but he’s had to go there out of necessity over the last couple of weeks,” McMillan said on Friday.

“Scored a couple of dots last week, did some good power carries today that got him and the team out of some difficult situations.

“Defensively, he’s been sound, so we know that we’ve got a decent stopgap there, but, ideally, want to get him back in the midfield.”

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Those comments indicate that another positional change in the backline could be in the offing when the Chiefs host the Brumbies in Hamilton next Saturday, a match of which they will be confident of picking up a fourth successive win.

After leapfrogging the Reds to rise to fourth place on the Super Rugby Pacific standings, McMillan was full of praise for the Chiefs’ set piece and discipline, both of which he said laid the foundations for what he described as an “ugly” but “important” win.

“It was an ugly kind of game, but in the context of our season, I think I’ll look back and realise just how important it was to get a W,” he said.

“We feel like we’ve got the best scrum in the competition. We’re happy to go there and challenge teams, and I think the referees got it right.

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“I know that the men in the middle with the whistle will probably get a lot of flak for raising his arm, but, do a little digging, you’ll see actually the blokes on the sideline there had the best view in the house for calling those penalties, so I think they got it right.

“The other thing we’re probably the best at is we’re the most disciplined team in the competition, and there’s no need to wheel or play silly buggers when you’ve got a lot of confidence in your scrum.

“You just scrum square over the ball, be prepared to scrum for as long as the referee will allow you to scrum, and that was part of our plan against the Reds.

“They’ve got a good scrum themselves, but we wanted to see whether they were prepared to scrum longer and, as it turns out, sometimes they weren’t.”

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