Sam Cane admits Chiefs need to lift standards
February 14, 2014
Sam Cane admits that with the support for a third title, the Chiefs will have to improve upon last years standards © Getty Images
All Black Sam Cane is adamant that standards at the Chiefs will have to improve from last year if the side expects three-peat of Super Rugby titles this season. Still getting back into the rhythm of rugby after returning to training after his holiday break and playing his first game against the Reds, Cane will line-up against the Blues in Rotorua.
But the young openside flanker knows he and his team-mates will have targets on their backs after back-to-back titles and will cop plenty from opposition sides right from the start.
"I suppose even after the first title in 2012, the public and media weren't 100 per cent behind us but this year I think we might be rated as favourites, so it's a little bit of a different area for us," Cane told stuff.co.nz.
"Our team's expectations are to go again. We've got a lot of new guys here and they're working bloody hard to try and prove themselves to us and to the management to try and get selected.
"But we've also got a core group of guys who have been here for a couple of years now and they realise the hard work that goes into winning a title and realise that we're going to have to pick our game up to a whole different level that we probably haven't been to before if we're going to be there come finals time.
"So there's a lot of hard work to be done and a lot of improvement to be made," he said.
The Blues led by John Kirwan look set to test the Chiefs with plenty of firepower in the sides last trial match tonight, then the champions will travel south to Christchurch to open the 2014 season against seven-time title winners, the Crusaders.
"That's the thing about this comp; it's so long and, if you slip up in a couple of games at the start of the season or in the middle, it can come back to hurt you at the end of season, whether that's home field advantage or the difference between making or missing out on the semis or quarters.
"We have to make sure we start well and are consistent throughout the season."
Injuries to the side mean the Chiefs will be without several players for tonight's trial and for their first round next week, but Cane said the team had always agreed not to talk about the unavailable players and just work with those who are.
"We've got faith in everyone in our squad and there's genuine competition out on the training pitch for shots. No-one's really sure who the starting 15 is going to be and that can only be good for training. You can see it out there sometimes when things get pretty physical, but we just have utter faith in whoever pulls on the jersey."
Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie said tonight's game was still a trial and they would use as many fit players as they could to give them a chance to stake a claim for the first competition match.
They also want to fine-tune their defensive and attack structures out on the park and Rennie said a big step-up was needed after a performance that lacked physicality against the Reds.
"Because of that, we lacked really quick ball and they were able to put us under pressure and certainly we didn't have the same intensity when we had the ball. Our lineout also battled but the boys have done a lot of work in those areas," Rennie said.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September