Rugby: Improved Sunwolves will test Chiefs, says assistant coach Tabai Matson

The Chiefs might have been guilty of taking the Bulls too lightly, but assistant coach Tabai Matson has assured that won‘t be the case when they meet the Sunwolves this week.

They might have been pushovers in the past, but with former Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph at the helm, the Sunwolves have shown they will be competitive this year, despite their winless-record not reflecting that.

“We don‘t make any assumptions about them being a banana skin or any of that rubbish,” Matson said. “We have to put on a good performance if we‘re going to get an outcome in Tokyo.

“They‘re a really good team and they‘re really well led and they‘ll be up for the Chiefs coming up there.”


After five rounds of the competition, the Sunwolves were anchored to the bottom of the ladder with three losses to their name. However, they‘ve shown they‘re capable of challenging the best teams in the competition – giving the Lions a real scare last week only to fall 40-38.

Hosea Saumaki of Sunwolves scores a try against the Lions. Photo / Getty Images facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

Matson noted the team‘s ability to score tries was impressive this year, which would not bode well for the Chiefs if they went into the match thinking it was a sure win.

The Chiefs gave up four tries in the first half in their 41-28 win against the Bulls in Hamilton on Friday night before knuckling down and shutting the South African side out in the second 40. Another start like that could prove to be costly.

“Not getting ambushed up there is probably priority number one,” Matson said.
“I think people remember the previous Sunwolves who were easy-beats. That is far from the truth. They‘re well organised and they will definitely be looking forward to this challenge.

The Chiefs will again be depleted due to injuries, with locks Mitchell Brown and Fin Hoeata joining the casualty ward for an extended period of time.

While some players, including co-captain Charlie Ngatai, were nearing a return, Matson didn‘t expect anyone to return for the trip to Japan.

“I don‘t know what you can do. I think we just keep calm and try to carry on…the cavalry seems to be two hills away.”

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