Chiefs head coach Warren Gatland has given a rare insight into his halftime team talks after the Hamilton franchise completed their second successive second half comeback against the Crusaders on Saturday.
The back-to-back-to-back reigning Super Rugby champions took a 12-8 lead into the halftime break at Waikato Stadium over the weekend, but Gatland’s men put in a storming second half effort to walk away with a 25-15 victory.
The result follows on from the Chiefs’ 37-29 win over the Blues at Eden Park in round one, when the visitors overturned 19-5 deficit at the break.
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Speaking to TVNZ on Monday, Gatland claimed there was “a bit of luck involved” in the win against the Crusaders compared to their success against the Blues.
“We had to sort a few things out at halftime, just to get the defensive things right,” he said.
“Normally, the Crusaders are really strong in the second half and we’d seen their preseason games and warm-up games so to come out in the second half and keep them try-less was a pretty good effort.”
While maintaining a level of discretion about his halftime speech, Gatland opened up about what was said to his players as they looked to overcome the Crusaders’ four-point lead.
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Tidy from D-Mac on his first start of the season but more importantly, helping the Chiefs get the W over the Crusaders. ? #chiefsrugby #chiefsmana #allblacks #nzrugby #superrugby
“The thing at halftime is sometimes you come in and there’s a lot of emotion so you spend the first three-four minutes with players rehydrating, taking a bit of time to calm and relax.
“We split into a couple of groups – the forwards sort a few things out and [so do] the backs – and then we’ll deliver a couple of messages from a coaching perspective whether it’s attack or defence.”
The 56-year-old former All Blacks hooker, who will take charge of the British and Irish Lions for the third time next year during their tour of South Africa, unveiled that it took more than just words to get his message across to his side.
“We showed them a video I’d gotten the analysts to clip up that we needed to work on from the first half and we just showed that,” Gatland said.
“It was something that we needed to work on and improve on. It was a drill that we’d been running at training and it emphasised that we weren’t quite there in that first half and in the second half we improved significantly and we defended exceptionally well in that second half.”
The Chiefs will now travel to Tokyo to face the Sunwolves this weekend, although they will have to play the Japanese franchise without a raft of key players, including All Blacks stars Sam Cane, Anton Lienert-Brown and Aaron Cruden.
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