Michael Allardice is looking to cement his place in the Chiefs’ starting pack after a promising performance against the Crusaders in the opening round of Super Rugby.
The injury to two-Test All Black Dominic Bird, and the departure of Matt Symons and Michael Fitzgerald have opened a door for the Hawke’s Bay lock to play alongside Brodie Retallick.
Bird is unlikely to get back on the field until at least round six after fracturing his right foot in the pre-season, leaving Allardice with a great chance to establish himself.
“I have to make the most of the opportunity while I can, trying hopefully to put my name on the jersey week by week,” he said.
The 24-year-old also welcomes the challenge of holding on to his starting position when Bird returns to action.
“Me and Dominic get on well as we have to do a bit around the lineouts [in training],” he said.
“If there are two guys that are incumbents in the team, that gets a bit stale, so if you got competition that makes everyone lift their game a little bit more.”
Allardice, who is in his second season with the Chiefs, feels his game has also come a long way through playing with World Cup-winning All Black Retallick.
“Obviously Brodie was the world’s best player (in 2014) so he’s a great one to learn off,” he said.
“I’m picking up little traits and tricks from his game, which is pretty awesome.”
The Chiefs, who beat the Crusaders 27-21 in Christchurch last weekend, are bracing for another bruising encounter when they host the Lions in Hamilton on Saturday night.
The Johannesburg-based Lions are coming off a 26-13 home win over new Japanese side the Sunwolves.
“It’s going to be a tough fixture back at home as they played well against the Sunwolves,” Allardice said.
“It’s going to be a set-piece battle as they love to scrum and we’re going to have to match them up front.”