It’s not as if the Chiefs needed help but they’re getting it anyway with All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick returning for their home Super Rugby clash with neighbours the Blues on Friday.
The 2014 World Rugby player of the year, Retallick has been out for four weeks with a rib injury which he suffered in the Chiefs’ 36-32 round two loss to the Lions.
The Chiefs have been on fire since and capped their rise to the top of the competition with a 48-23 thrashing of Australian conference leaders the Brumbies in Canberra last week.
Retallick only played eight matches for the Chiefs last year after he injured both his shoulders and is now keen to get back on track.
“Yeah, I hope so – Renz (Dave Rennie) reminded me the other day that I haven’t played too many games in the last two years so hopefully I can stay out on the field for the rest of the season,” Retallick said.
The match against the Blues will also reunite Retallick and fellow lock Dominic Bird for the first time since 2011, when they helped the New Zealand under-20 team win the world championship title in Italy.
Bird has been out of action since January after fracturing his foot and will now make his Chiefs debut on Friday.
The Chiefs, with a dozen players under 21 in their squad, are also showing signs of returning to the form that won them back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.
“I think it’s fair to say that the team is getting on really well,” Retallick said.
“We have created a good environment this year and with the new players there is a lot of energy and they’re hungry.
“The new coaches (Kieran Keane and Neil Barnes) have brought a new philosophy in the way they want to play the game – it’s exciting to do something different and it’s working at the moment.”
Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Shaun Stevenson, Anton Lienert-Brown, Charlie Ngatai, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden (co-capt), Brad Weber, Michael Leitch, Sam Cane (co-capt), Maama Vaipulu, Brodie Retallick, Dominic Bird, Atu Moli, Hika Elliot, Mitchell Graham. Res: Rhys Marshall, Siate Tokolahi, Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Taleni Seu, Sam Henwood, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Seta Tamanivalu, Sam McNicol.