CAPE TOWN - Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said that his team “surprised” the Stormers during their 60-21 quarter-final thrashing of Robbie Fleck’s side last year.
This time, though, Rennie & Co are wary of the Stormers’ “attacking and offloading” ability.
The Chiefs boss said that they were not expecting a replay of last year's match, but instead said that they were rather cautious of the progress the Cape side have made since their last meeting, especially in terms of their new expansive approach.
“Maybe we surprised them a bit last year. That was our best performance last year, so we’d be very happy if we could emulate that kind of form. I’m pretty confident that we won’t be able to do that this time. It’s going to be a big step-up on our performance over the last few weeks,” Rennie said.
“They seem pretty fit because they’re playing (the) type of game where they keep the ball alive and they’ve scored some outstanding, length-of-the-field tries. There’s no doubt they’re playing a bit more footy and they look more conditioned. They’ll be confident.
“Clearly they’ve done a bit of work on footwork, so our first-time tackles are going to be pretty important. And we’ll have to be aware of their attacking and offloading. They’re certainly the form team in their pool and we’ll prepare accordingly.”
Just like the Stormers, the Chiefs are also unbeaten after six rounds, and despite having conceded only six tries in the competition so far and producing top performances, Rennie said that his team can still do “a lot better”.
“We’ve worked really hard up until this point, we reckon we can be a lot better. That’s exciting from my point of view because it means we still have a way to go,” he said.
The New Zealanders will also be looking to make up for their match against the Bulls, which Rennie faulted, although the Chiefs did well to secure a bonus-point win after some high-pressure periods by the Bulls in the first half.
“I don’t think we played enough footy (against the Bulls), especially in the first half. We kicked too much ball away, especially from counter situations and we backed ourselves into a corner,” Rennie said.
Speaking of the Bulls, the Chiefs coach also put his relationship with the Bulls coaching team into perspective after reports surfaced that he had been sharing “information sessions” with the Bulls staff as part of a list of consultants who have worked with the franchise during the pre-season.
Rennie also nullified reports of him having been approached for the Springbok job late last year, and described such talks as “fictitious.”
“I had a beer with Nollis (Marais) and Pine (Pienaar, assistant coach) after the Brisbane Tens,” Rennie explained.
“We played them in a game over there, so we caught up and had a beer the other night ... not sharing any trade secrets but we talked a lot about pre-season and how we do things and they do things.
“We talked about schedule and how their weeks run. It was just a chance to learn from each other.”
Rennie also gave his opinion on the matter of South African teams ending their participation in Super Rugby, and said that it would be a “disaster” if SA teams weren’t involved in the competition anymore.
With Sanzaar having entered into extensive discussions over the possibility of cutting a few teams from the tournament, rumours that SA could have two teams axed (reports have speculated that these teams could be the Cheetahs and Kings) have been all round.
This has led to suggestions that SA should go into competition with the northern hemisphere teams, as travelling would be much less of a factor.
“I think the only ones saying it should be an Australasian competition only are the Australians. In the end, that’s what makes Super Rugby special you travel to a republic. I think it would be a disaster if South African teams weren’t involved in Super Rugby,” Rennie said.
“I know they’re trying to fatten it out by bringing in the Jaguares and the Sunwolves, but you want to make sure that this is a premium competition. I think maybe SA having one team less and Australia having one team less would be better for those countries long term.”