Waikato and the Chiefs



  • On the back of Waikato's demotion yesterday, would anyone care to explain why they're in such bad decline while the Chiefs are up there in Super Rugby? The Chiefs have had the most 'national' of the NZ Super squads for a number of years now (probably on par with the Highlanders) and at the same time Waikato appear to have been in steady decline. Is there a correlation to be drawn between the Chiefs' shopping habits and why Waikato stink so bad these days?



  • @shark
    It bugs me that so many promising Waikato players keep deserting the province. I am afraid it will continue this summer. Like the Highlanders, the Chiefs seem to regularly recruit imports known to their coaches, when local players of similar or possibly greater ability miss out. They inevitably look elsewhere for opportunities because of the uncertainty that prevails for their own future.

    I went to the game yesterday and was gutted to see no improvement in the things marring their outcomes this season.

    1. The goalkicking was atrocious, with some of the misses being by huge distances. I was looking for Sweeney and McKenzie to set that right after last year. Maybe Lansdown lost confidence by not being promoted to regular starter. Christie was not intended top kicker, and that responsibility seemed to lie heavily on him. Reece just did not look the part. However, Ahki looked ok.
    2. The lineout organisation seems too complicated, with so many mistimed throws to the back of the lineout. Not sure it was the hooker's fault, as easy to disrupt and anticipate.
    3. Poor tactical kicking, usually to waiting hands, no chasers. Should go to ground more often, or have chasers close.
    4. Too many blind offloads in the opposition 22. That is the time to keep the pressure on by building phases.
    5. Too many cards conceded under pressure and too many penalties given defending mauls.
    6. Lack of deception and vision on attack. Constant use of crash ball by second-five or winger is too predictable.

    My conclusion is that the squad individually lacked self-belief, despite a great start to the season, from uncertainty regarding individual futures, compared to most other teams. The sum of individual talents certainly did not match the team results. With so many players seeking super contracts and so few Chiefs spots open it must be hard to pin your hopes and promote oneself as a draft pick.

    Having four provinces in the Chiefs franchise, when Chiefs coaches still import talent, inevitably means that a lot of aspiring players will be uncertain of their future. Whomever is Coach for next season needs to start off building right now and instilling a sense of belief and progression towards goals, so that the players get the hunger to collectively make it back to the top division next year.

    Relegation might be just the reality check needed to create a united sense of purpose and far better things in 2018. Collective confidence and belief in each other builds a great team.



  • @arhs said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    @shark
    It bugs me that so many promising Waikato players keep deserting the province. I am afraid it will continue this summer. Like the Highlanders, the Chiefs seem to regularly recruit imports known to their coaches, when local players of similar or possibly greater ability miss out. They inevitably look elsewhere for opportunities because of the uncertainty that prevails for their own future.

    I went to the game yesterday and was gutted to see no improvement in the things marring their outcomes this season.

    1. The goalkicking was atrocious, with some of the misses being by huge distances. I was looking for Sweeney and McKenzie to set that right after last year. Maybe Lansdown lost confidence by not being promoted to regular starter. Christie was not intended top kicker, and that responsibility seemed to lie heavily on him. Reece just did not look the part. However, Ahki looked ok.
    2. The lineout organisation seems too complicated, with so many mistimed throws to the back of the lineout. Not sure it was the hooker's fault, as easy to disrupt and anticipate.
    3. Poor tactical kicking, usually to waiting hands, no chasers. Should go to ground more often, or have chasers close.
    4. Too many blind offloads in the opposition 22. That is the time to keep the pressure on by building phases.
    5. Too many cards conceded under pressure and too many penalties given defending mauls.
    6. Lack of deception and vision on attack. Constant use of crash ball by second-five or winger is too predictable.

    My conclusion is that the squad individually lacked self-belief, despite a great start to the season, from uncertainty regarding individual futures, compared to most other teams. The sum of individual talents certainly did not match the team results. With so many players seeking super contracts and so few Chiefs spots open it must be hard to pin your hopes and promote oneself as a draft pick.

    Having four provinces in the Chiefs franchise, when Chiefs coaches still import talent, inevitably means that a lot of aspiring players will be uncertain of their future. Whomever is Coach for next season needs to start off building right now and instilling a sense of belief and progression towards goals, so that the players get the hunger to collectively make it back to the top division next year.

    Relegation might be just the reality check needed to create a united sense of purpose and far better things in 2018. Collective confidence and belief in each other builds a great team.

    I would not get to down. Age group teams from Waikato have been consistently strong.
    From a Chiefs perspective I believe the franchise has really failed it unions. I am hoping Cooper will signal a change.



  • The Chiefs are no longer a thinly disguised Waikato recruitment tool.

    With the added bonus of no incentive to see non-Waikato SR level players leave the franchise area.



  • Out of interest how did Zac go for the chang this year?



  • @arhs Who are all the promising players leaving the province, and who's benefiting? I actually see Waikato bringing in a lot of top talent straight out of school, such as McKenzie, ALB and Tucker all from Chch schools (yes yes, McKenzie himself was an import from Southland first, but the point stands). Or is it the Chiefs bringing them in and they just happen to be aligned with Waikato, who receive minimal use of the players as they advance to the top level?

    I think the Chiefs have badly let Waikato down, and to a lesser degree probably the three smaller top unions in the franchise area, by going after too many players from all over the country when central contracting was introduced. One way or another, Chiefs recruitment has stymied the development of local talent.



  • @shark

    From the last year those gone elsewhere include Brian Alainu'uese, Whetu Douglas, Stephen Donald, Brad Tucker, Josh Gascoigne, Willis Halaholo, Steven Misa, Jason Robertson, Shaun Stevenson, Jordan Trainor, Josh Dowsing, Atu Masirewa, Luke Masirewa, and Under 19s Ryan Coxon and Du Plessis Kirifi loaned (?) out, plus Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Loni Uhila going now. In the previous year or so, Joe Webber, Regan Ware, Dylan Collier, Declan O'Donnell, Kylem O'Donnell, Bryn Gatland, Wharenui Hawera, Josh Tyrell, Joe Walsh, Jordan Payne, Ben Tameifuna, Brad Webber, Kane Jacobsen all gone to other provinces. Not sure why Liam Messam not there this year. Also, Tau Koloamatangi, Turoa Stephens and Nathaniel Apa missing from representative action.

    So, not such a problem in the youngest bracket, but more of an issue in the 21 to 25 area when players are jockeying for full-time super rugby contracts. North Harbour and European Clubs have been the biggest benefactors. Ironically, Ahki and Manihera both from Harbour.

    In my humble opinion that is a huge player turnover, with very few of the players too old for Super rugby (or Waikato Rep team) next year.

    There are some very promising players still there, such as Taukeiaho, Caird, Moli, Jacobsen x 2, Reece, Campbell, Sullivan, Lansdown, Tucker, Kautai, McWhannell, Johnstone, Lienert-Brown, McKenzie, Faiva. I just hope they stay on and develop combinations.



  • A lot of those guys you named are imports to Waikato anyway!



  • I don't think it has anything to do with the Chiefs. The only home base for a franchise with a strong team is Canterbury.



  • It'll be interesting to see how long it takes Waikato to come back up. It hasn't been easy for other teams


    Year Team Relegated Year Regained Promotion
    2011 Southland N/A
    2012 Hawkes Bay 2015
    2013 Bay of Plenty N/A
    2014 Wellington N/A
    2015 Manawatu N/A
    2016 Hawkes Bay N/A
    2017 Waikato N/A

    It's a small sample size, but so far only Hawkes Bay have won promotion after being relegated under this format.
    It has been different from the the yoyo teams in the 90's

    Waikato has a better chance than most. Making the last two under 19s finals means they should have some decent talent coming through

    But consider Wellington.. They arguably have a top 3 team right now but they have been stuck in the second division for years

    Waikato fans should probably cheer for Wellington to get promoted this year



  • @Duluth the season after Wellington got relegated, the Canes had one of their best ever seasons including a home SR final, under the same coach! Then won it the following year. Seems the correlation between SR success and provincial success is not strong anymore.



  • @duluth said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    It'll be interesting to see how long it takes Waikato to come back up. It hasn't been easy for other teams


    Year Team Relegated Year Regained Promotion
    2011 Southland N/A
    2012 Hawkes Bay 2015
    2013 Bay of Plenty N/A
    2014 Wellington N/A
    2015 Manawatu N/A
    2016 Hawkes Bay N/A
    2017 Waikato N/A

    It's a small sample size, but so far only Hawkes Bay have won promotion after being relegated under this format.
    It has been different from the the yoyo teams in the 90's

    Waikato has a better chance than most. Making the last two under 19s finals means they should have some decent talent coming through

    But consider Wellington.. They arguably have a top 3 team right now but they have been stuck in the second division for years

    Waikato fans should probably cheer for Wellington to get promoted this year

    It doesn't really matter though what dic you're in? You still play Div 1 and 2 opponents. If you asked me who was in each division, apart from Southland, I wouldn't have known who was in it.



  • @hooroo said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    It doesn't really matter though what dic you're in?

    Well you can't be champions



  • @duluth said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    @hooroo said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    It doesn't really matter though what dic you're in?

    Well you can't be champions

    True.

    Wow, I am suprised how little I care about NPC. Love the Shield still though



  • The Chiefs angle is interesting

    Taranaki have long had ambitions of being a SR base. If they end this season as Ranfurly Shield holders and 1st division winners they have a strong hand to ask for more games

    They too have a Test match venue, they have better crowds and produce more players

    I expect infighting



  • The Chiefs and Waikato separated as an entity a long time back (maybe even back when I was living there) and quite frankly it's a good thing that the bulk of a franchises talent isn't all concentrated in one NPC team. That was the problem with the previous incarnations with the NPC when Super Rugby started, the franchise could just hog the talent. Now we have a much better spread, and Southland and the Magpies aside, any team can beat any team regardless of the division. It's really just two conferences in the same competition.



  • @duluth said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    The Chiefs angle is interesting

    Taranaki have long had ambitions of being a SR base. If they end this season as Ranfurly Shield holders and 1st division winners they have a strong hand to ask for more games

    They too have a Test match venue, they have better crowds and produce more players

    I expect infighting

    That would be a fair call too. It would be a bit of fun if Super Bases were loaded out based on NPC performance



  • I'm all for going back to a system where a franchise has to select a minimum of x amount of players from within franchise boundaries. This used to be something like 24 players but could be as few as 12 potentially. There has to be a happy medium to be found between the central contracting free-for-all and the old 24 player system. Before anyone says anything, this wouldn't benefit Canterbury greatly.



  • @shark said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    I'm all for going back to a system where a franchise has to select a minimum of x amount of players from within franchise boundaries. This used to be something like 24 players but could be as few as 12 potentially. There has to be a happy medium to be found between the central contracting free-for-all and the old 24 player system. Before anyone says anything, this wouldn't benefit Canterbury greatly.

    What is wrong with it in reality? Why protect the franchise bases? Some provinces are struggling to be as successful as in the past, that just means others are more successful now - but if you remember back to the 80s then Waikato spent time in the old 2nd division.

    If unions are to be tied in then it should be all top tier unions in the region rather than just the home franchise which has happened in the past, that way a union like Hawkes Bay (for example) wouldn't see it's players go to other franchises so often.



  • @shark said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    I'm all for going back to a system where a franchise has to select a minimum of x amount of players from within franchise boundaries. This used to be something like 24 players but could be as few as 12 potentially. There has to be a happy medium to be found between the central contracting free-for-all and the old 24 player system. Before anyone says anything, this wouldn't benefit Canterbury greatly.

    And players then just shift province, like they used to. And so the outer provinces get stripped.



  • Seems to me like @shark is applying the slightly unique way the Crusaders work to the other franchises.
    As others have pointed out the Saders/Canterbury are pretty much the only setup that still operate in the old way. In big part that is due to geography and population.
    Using the Chiefs as an example they have Waikato, BOP and CM as ITM Cup unions. In the bad old days BOP and CM would be weakened to feed the system of Waikato forming the base of the Chiefs (eg Beaver). Now with franchises being able to recruit from anywhere the talent is spread back. geographically it isn't much of a problem to have your family home in Pukekohe or Tauranga and play your Super Rugby in Hamilton. Even though many players will share a flat for training/ playing they are still able to nip home on days off.
    With the Saders, players know that if they want to play there they pretty much need to live in ChCh therefore strengthening only one province. The nearest other high level province is impractical to be driving to and from (although I imagine Tasman players try to live in two places)



  • Relegation ain't what it used to be.

    Nowadays you only need a couple of slip ups and you finish 7th and only 3 places out of the semis. Conceivably you could only be one game out of the play-offs and down you go.

    Back in the day I think the smallest Div 1 ever got was 9. (3 divs of 9). But generally it was 10.

    Is finishing 7th really that bad a slip up?



  • P.S. i like that non Super base provinces are right up there. Takes me back to when Counties and Manawatu were leading the comp.



  • @booboo said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    P.S. i like that non Super base provinces are right up there. Takes me back to when Counties and Manawatu were leading the comp.

    Overall it is much, much better than when players concentrated around the super hubs.
    Talent wise it means that more players get a chance to show their abilities rather than only those identified by franchise selectors. This provides another avenue away for those not identified at college/U20s level.

    Edit: Liam Squire is probably a good example. Highest youth level was locally in Manawatu (PNBHS). Moved to (at that time) unheralded Tasman for an opportunity. Looks unlikely that he would have been picked up early on by a Waikato/Wellington/Canterbury etc as he was on no ones radar.



  • There are a lot of crusty old fuckwits on the Waikato board, (I feel sorry for Monkley and Holah), and as long as they are there, nothing will change. Waikato have been on a slippery downward slope for a while now, and they still persist with town vs country antics even though there has been a bit of a shake up in terms of club pecking order. Otorohanga and Melville have been making great strides, while traditionally strong Fraser Tech and University were bottom 2 in the prems this year.

    But as I said, old dogs fail to see it's a brave new world. As another poster said, perhaps being relegated will be the kick in the arse they need to take a long hard look at the union and where it is, and where it wants to be in future. Bleeding talent is a huge worry, and the team have lost a LOT of experience. Why are they leaving? Where are they going? What is being offered? That is where they should start the assessment.



  • @hooroo said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    @duluth said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    The Chiefs angle is interesting

    Taranaki have long had ambitions of being a SR base. If they end this season as Ranfurly Shield holders and 1st division winners they have a strong hand to ask for more games

    They too have a Test match venue, they have better crowds and produce more players

    I expect infighting

    That would be a fair call too. It would be a bit of fun if Super Bases were loaded out based on NPC performance

    Works for me 🙂



  • @booboo said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    Relegation ain't what it used to be.

    Nowadays you only need a couple of slip ups and you finish 7th and only 3 places out of the semis. Conceivably you could only be one game out of the play-offs and down you go.

    Back in the day I think the smallest Div 1 ever got was 9. (3 divs of 9). But generally it was 10.

    Is finishing 7th really that bad a slip up?

    In Waikatos case finishing 7th was rather flattering... in reality they were in the bottom 3 or 4 teams of the combined competitions.



  • The way I'd structure it would be for a minimum of x amount of players to be selected from within franchise boundaries. NOT just from the host union, which appears to be how some have taken it. This would strengthen parochialism and in the case of the Chiefs in particular it would see a lot more Waikato, BOP and Counties players selected than has been the case in recent years. There were well publicised stats about the Chiefs in the last few seasons around the amount of players they had signed from unions outside their catchment VS the amount of players from the host unions. Who really wants that?? Since buying a couple of titles, what have the Chiefs achieved, and what's the damage been to Waikato? Meanwhile, look at the example of Whetu Douglas. Largely ignored by the Chiefs while they signed loose forwards from other parts of the country and even overseas, he's then lost to Waikato and in the meantime embarrasses both the Chiefs and Waikato administrations by performing outstandingly in a handful of games after being drafted in for the Crusaders. That's the kind of player who could still be around and strengthening both sides while maintaining more of a local flavour to the Chiefs.



  • @shark Taranaki is also part of the Chiefs...



  • Yea, I do forget that. Seems so wrong. The same representation rules would apply to the Naki but they haven't the same history of neglect by the Chiefs given they're a recent addition.



  • @shark said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    The way I'd structure it would be for a minimum of x amount of players to be selected from within franchise boundaries. NOT just from the host union, which appears to be how some have taken it. This would strengthen parochialism and in the case of the Chiefs in particular it would see a lot more Waikato, BOP and Counties players selected than has been the case in recent years. There were well publicised stats about the Chiefs in the last few seasons around the amount of players they had signed from unions outside their catchment VS the amount of players from the host unions. Who really wants that?? Since buying a couple of titles, what have the Chiefs achieved, and what's the damage been to Waikato? Meanwhile, look at the example of Whetu Douglas. Largely ignored by the Chiefs while they signed loose forwards from other parts of the country and even overseas, he's then lost to Waikato and in the meantime embarrasses both the Chiefs and Waikato administrations by performing outstandingly in a handful of games after being drafted in for the Crusaders. That's the kind of player who could still be around and strengthening both sides while maintaining more of a local flavour to the Chiefs.

    I totally get where you are coming from with that but you also have to remember that part of the franchise structure is for NZR to ensure as much as possible that the best players are playing at the highest levels and getting the required playing time. There is a need to spread talent around, not only to create stronger franchise teams but to help the situations where one franchise happens to hold all the cards in one position. One team having three top tighthead props is not good for the ABs if one of them is a continual reserve and the other a dirty dirty.
    Without wanting to divert the topic, your story about the Chiefs 'buying titles' is well off the mark as well. The irony is that it was because the host unions couldn't supply the type of player the coach wanted they recruited the unwanted unknowns from elsewhere and honed them.



  • Central contracting didn't prevent the Chiefs from having three AB half-backs for 2-3 years. There will always be circumstances in which that kind of thing happens. I'm suggesting a system where x amount of players have to come from within the franchise's boundaries. This could be spread depending in the size of the union ie at the Chiefs it might be six Waikato contracted players and four from each of Taranaki, Counties and BOP. This leaves 19 spots to pick up talent from around the rest of the country, which could include the second or third tighthead scenario you mentioned. This is a good compromise.



  • @crucial oh and Cruden and SBW were unknowns?



  • I'm fully in favour of splitting up the Mitre 10 cup and the Super Rugby. Franchises may get first dibs on players from inside their boundaries, but the old days of signing for a Super and the host ITM cup team sucked. Created imbalanced competition, and no reward for some of the provinces that regularly developed talent (Counties is a particular example).

    We've got back to teh original concept when Super kicked off. Leon MacDonald played for the 3rd division Marlborough team for 2-3 years after Super kicked off, and then that was kind of the end of it. The current situation is much healthier, with 14 teams to play for.



  • @shark said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    Central contracting didn't prevent the Chiefs from having three AB half-backs for 2-3 years. There will always be circumstances in which that kind of thing happens. I'm suggesting a system where x amount of players have to come from within the franchise's boundaries. This could be spread depending in the size of the union ie at the Chiefs it might be six Waikato contracted players and four from each of Taranaki, Counties and BOP. This leaves 19 spots to pick up talent from around the rest of the country, which could include the second or third tighthead scenario you mentioned. This is a good compromise.

    Would you like that scenario if it also filtered down to ITM Cup level? e.g. Canterbury can only select Canterbury club players that actually play club rugby, then the Saders can only select from there and from Tasman?

    I get what you are aiming at but it is simply a recipe for franchise players to congregate at certain base unions and the 'leftovers' would either need to shift towns or get left out. Imagine a Highlanders side of 80%Otago and Southland players?

    Edit: you are counting Pulu and Weber? stretching the point somewhat.



  • @shark said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    . There were well publicised stats about the Chiefs in the last few seasons around the amount of players they had signed from unions outside their catchment VS the amount of players from the host unions. Who really wants that??

    Me!

    I don't care where the players hail from. That amature ship has long since sailed. I want the Chiefs winning titles, that's all that matter in terms of Super Rugby.

    I am trying to think of a top professional competition that is 'regionalised' in terms of players



  • @hooroo

    I feel the total opposite. I used to love NPC rugby. Years ago it was great seeing players come up through the ranks and graduate into their local Super rugby franchise. There was more of a natural progression for players and a hell of a lot more loyalty. Now they pluck from schools anywhere and I feel Super rugby and NPC have lost their 'soul'.

    I find it increasingly hard to identify with the super teams plucked from any old where. I would rather see more regionally based picks where a player might take 2 or 3 years to become a regular starter, but knows he is being groomed as a successor to the incumbent. It was great to watch a guy play well in club rugby, then see how he shaped up in super rugby. Now a lot of super players don't play regularly in NPC, and rarely for clubs.

    I think the spread of the unions between super franchises has been a significant challenge. The Crusaders are fortunate to have just two provinces, one extremely strong and another not too far behind. That supports a super squad and a development squad for the region, with local opportunities plentiful. The Highlanders have a much smaller population base between their two provinces. I always expected a formalised Association for them with either Hawkes Bay or Taranaki and perhaps a home match there thrown in. i.e. HB or Taranaki openly supplies players to Highlanders and Hurricanes, and gets a home match for each.

    The Blues and Hurricanes work ok with 3 provinces now. But, the Chiefs are lumbered with 4 provincial squads to provide player pathways for. I think both Bay of Plenty and Counties Manukau have suffered from this with players like Joe Tupe and Sam Vaka not even picked up on the draft, and leaving. It is in the best interests of NZ rugby to have well balanced franchises. Currently the Highlanders and Chiefs are too much the polar extremes.

    I believe that the best performances come from a settled and experienced team that builds up collective trust and confidence over years. That means keeping a squad together and supporting local development.

    I wonder if a sixth franchise - Taranaki + Hawkes Bay is a viable solution in time, especially if NPC and club rugby become less relevant.



  • @ARHS I understand your sentiment and that is how I used to feel about 10-5 years ago. Now I am happy with it and used to it.

    NPC is a comedy comp now and will never be what it was. I accepted that quite some time ago



  • as a supporter of a smaller province, I like the way the contracting is now.

    Back in the old days the likes of Sam Nock, probably both Goodhue brothers, Matich, would never have come back, the Pryors probably would never have come north in the first place, Ranger probably woulda still followed his same path as he has.

    As it is, I understand a few provinces are after the signature of one of our young players, in the past a promise of a super contract to go with the NPC one would have been the offer to lure him away, now it rarely the case.

    This assists the smaller provinces in retaining some of their own talent while attracting some outside talent.

    I like Super rugby because it is NZ Rugby and sadly don't think I'll ever feel about a super team as i do Northland.



  • @nzzp said in Waikato and the Chiefs:

    I'm fully in favour of splitting up the Mitre 10 cup and the Super Rugby. Franchises may get first dibs on players from inside their boundaries, but the old days of signing for a Super and the host ITM cup team sucked. Created imbalanced competition, and no reward for some of the provinces that regularly developed talent (Counties is a particular example).

    We've got back to teh original concept when Super kicked off. Leon MacDonald played for the 3rd division Marlborough team for 2-3 years after Super kicked off, and then that was kind of the end of it. The current situation is much healthier, with 14 teams to play for.

    Once again, I'm not suggesting a scenario whereby players flock to a Waikato or Canterbury. The other unions in these Super Rugby regions would have a proportionate representation, compulsorily. Including Counties. Then each franchise would also have plenty of opportunity to sign the balance of the squad from wherever, meaning there's no reason why a Goodhue couldn't remain in Northland and play for the Crusaders as one of their centrally contracted players. Compromise.


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