Super Rugby 2019: Chiefs believe playoffs are reachable with season in balance

Stand-in Chiefs captain Brad Weber insists his team can make a late surge into the Super Rugby playoffs, as the clock winds down on the regular season.

With five games remaining, the Chiefs sit last in the New Zealand conference and 14th in the overall standings, but they only sit a bonus-point win outside the playoffs spot in arguably the closest Super Rugby race ever.

Their march towards the playoffs starts against the Sharks in Hamilton, and includes two New Zealand derbies and two matches against Australian opposition.

But they're winless in their last four matches and have conceded the second-most points this season.

And with 14 players on the injured list, including four All Blacks (Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Kane Hames and Damian McKenzie), it will be a tough ask for Weber's side.

But belief is still high that they can pull off a miracle.

"It's definitely not out of the picture," said Weber. "We are of the mindset we can get there, 100 percent.

"It is motivation to play well and win our last games of the regular season to give us every chance.

"There is not much separating the bottom six from the top eight. Everybody seems to be beating everybody, so if we win the rest of our games, we'll be there. "'

Missing out on the playoffs would be an unusual feeling for the Chiefs, who have reached the knockout stage in the last seven years, after twice in the previous 16 years.

For that to happen, Weber says the Chiefs would need to limit their turnovers, particularly when offloading the ball.

Chiefs first-five Orbyn Leger offloads the ball.
Chiefs first-five Orbyn Leger offloads the ball. Photo credit: Getty

The Chiefs lead the competition in offloads (148), and have commented the third-most errors (117) and fifth-most turnovers (163).

"We've been giving the ball up too easily. We've had close to 20 turnovers in the last couple of weeks.

"We win when we turn the ball over bugger all, so that's our primary focus.

"It's about being smart when to offload them. We can get trigger-happy at times, but when we're smarter is when we tend to score tries.

"If we hold onto the ball, we build phases and score points that way."

Weber is wary of the Sharks' threat, after their 21-21 draw against the Crusaders last week.

Surprisingly, they didn't score any tries, as Curwin Bosch slotted seven penalty goals for the Sharks.

"They did incredibly well," said Weber. "They're big boys, they run hard, and scrum and maul well, so we have our work cut out for us.

"If we can play at our speed and pace we'll be fine."

The Sharks have beaten the Chiefs in two of their last three meetings, although the Hamilton side have won their previous four home Super Rugby games against the South African side.


Join us for live updates of the Chiefs v Sharks from 7:35 Saturday night.