Waikato Chiefs boss feels for struggling Crusaders

rugby27 March 2024 06:30| © AFP
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Clayton McMillan @ Getty Images

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan says he has sympathy for the embattled Crusaders ahead of Friday's Super Rugby clash.

The Chiefs are second in the table with four wins from five games heading to Christchurch for a repeat of last season's final, which the Crusaders won.

The Crusaders have won seven straight Super Rugby titles but sit bottom of the table and are the only team to have lost all five games so far.

McMillan knows how that feels – the Chiefs lost all eight games in the 2020 season, which was shortened because of the pandemic.

"Believe it or not we all kind of feel for them because we have been in that situation," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"There will be nobody that's sleeping too much. They will be turning over every stone to figure out what they can do to turn up (and win) on Friday night."

The Chiefs have already beaten the Crusaders this season with a 33-29 win at home in Hamilton last month.


A lengthy injury list and the loss of key players to overseas clubs have hit the Crusaders hard.

Head coach Rob Penney is winless since replacing Scott Robertson, who left last year to take charge of the All Blacks.

With regular captain Scott Barrett nursing a fractured finger and stand-in David Havili carrying a leg knock, scrum-half Mitchell Drummond skippers the Crusaders.

The Chiefs are without All Blacks playmaker Damian McKenzie, who is resting a knee strain. In his absence, 22-year-old flyhalf Josh Jacomb will make his first start for the Chiefs in an experienced backline.

"He's surrounded by people who will certainly make him feel a little bit more comfortable out there," McMillan said of Jacomb.

Despite the poor form of the Crusaders the Chiefs expect a tough night in Christchurch.

"It's a bit of a cauldron, never an easy place to go. We know what's coming," McMillan added.

Table leaders the Hurricanes are chasing a sixth straight win this season when they play the Highlanders away on Saturday.

All Blacks prop Tyrel Lomax is set to make his 100th Super Rugby appearance for the Hurricanes.

Jordie Barrett is the only survivor from last Friday's win over the Melbourne Rebels. He keeps his place in a new-look backline which includes All Blacks scrum-half Cam Roigard.

Hurricanes coach Clark Laidlaw said it was "a selection headache" which players to leave out, "but long may it continue".

"We rested some of the boys last week who had played a lot of minutes, so the opportunity for them to come back in was there," Laidlaw added.