All Blacks coach Steve Hansen unrepentant over Chiefs dilemma

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen makes no apologies for potentially hijacking the Chiefs' suddenly shaky Super Rugby prospects.

With the national team assembling in Auckland this weekend, the country's top players have been summoned from all parts of the empire, including four from the Hamilton-based franchise, as it prepared for Saturday night's fixture against the Sharks in Durban.

Without lock Brodie Retallick, hooker Nathan Harris, centre Anton Lienert-Brown and utility Damian McKenzie, and many others unavailable through injury, the Chiefs fell 28-24 to the South Africans on Sunday morning (NZ time) - their third loss in five outings.

With the Argentinian Jaguares winning their fifth straight and now making a strong playoff push, the Chiefs and Highlanders, who also lost to the Waratahs, are in real danger of missing out.   

After naming his All Blacks side for next month's French series, Hansen was corralled over his withdrawal of the Chiefs players and stood his ground.

"The All Black programme has to have some preparation time in it," he insisted. "We all knew that.

"The one guy who has been most supportive has been [Chiefs coach] Colin Cooper, because he also understands that preparation is the key to everything."

Cooper is also the Maori All Blacks coach, so he's well-versed in the logistics of assembling an international team with limited preparation time.

"We've been well-planned for it and they've been well-planned for it," said Hansen. "The thing that has made it really difficult for the Chiefs is that their season has seen them get a lot of injuries, so they've had to go really deep into the well.

"You've got to look at them and say what a fantastic job they're doing to get as far as they've got.

"Yeah, it was difficult, but unfortunately we've got to have some preparation time."

Perhaps the most curious aspect of the depleted Chiefs line-up, though, was the inclusion of halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi on their bench against the Sharks.

He was not required to journey home early, yet was subsequently named in the All Blacks squad and not expected in camp until Monday night.


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