THE Chiefs are expecting an arm wrestle with the Sharks in the Super Rugby final at Waikato Stadium tomorrow morning (UK time).
The hosts are expecting nothing less from a big and physical South African side who favour a direct approach.
While the Chiefs would be advised to try avoid such a contest and instead back their speed, coach Dave Rennie said a forward confrontation could not be avoided.
“We need to stamp our physicality on the game, because that’s the way we’ve played [all season],” Rennie told the Waikato Times.
“They’ll be aware of that, but we need to be able to create go-forward and our boys are certainly up for matching it toe to toe.”
In their advantage is the travel factor, with the Sharks having done a huge amount of travel in recent weeks.
“We obviously want to use our backs but still give our big fellas a chance to carry and get them in the game, get their shoulders working etc.”
As well as the collision area, the Sharks will also be relishing taking the Chiefs on in the scrums, lineouts and kickoffs.
Super Rugby centurian Bismarck du Plessis said they respected the Chiefs.
“But we also try to pride ourselves on our set-pieces that we work really hard on every week and every day and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” du Plessis said.
Sharks coach John Plumtree said he anticipated a “pretty big arm wrestle” regardless of the weather.
“It’s going to be tough – it’s going to be a real big final.”
The Chiefs will be stirred on by the 25,100 sellout crowd, it is the level of intensity and accuracy they bring to all aspects of their play that will decide their fate.
Chiefs: Robbie Robinson, Tim Nanai-Williams, Andrew Horrell, Sonny Bill Williams, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Kane Thompson, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (c), Ben Tameifuna, Mahonri Schwalger, Sona Taumalolo. Res: Hika Elliot, Ben Afeaki, Mike Fitzgerald, Sam Cane, Brendon Leonard, Jackson Willison, Lelia Masaga.
Sharks: Patrick Lambie, Louis Ludik, J P Pietersen, Paul Jordaan, Lwazi Mvovo, Frederick Michalak, Charl McLeod, Ryan Kankowski, Marcell Coetzee, Keegan Daniel (c), Anton Bresler, Willem Alberts, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tenda Mtawira. Res: Craig Burdon, Wiehan Herbst, Steven Sykes, Jean Deysel, Jacques Botes, Meyer Bosman, Riaan Viljoen