Super Rugby 2020: Chiefs to rest All Blacks for Tokyo trip to play Sunwolves

The Chiefs will be without experienced trio Sam Cane, Aaron Cruden and Anton Lienert-Brown for their upcoming trip to Japan, coach Warren Gatland says.

All Blacks Cane and Lienert-Brown both played the entire 80 minutes during the Chiefs' come-from-behind 25-15 win against the Crusaders in Hamilton on Saturday. 

Their full game performances come despite the All Blacks' rest protocols which see players required to play 40, 60, then 80 minutes to start the season. 

Both Cane and Lienert-Brown played 40 minutes in the Chiefs' first game of the season against the Blues. 

Instead, Gatland, who slammed the rest policy ahead of the Super Rugby season, will give the All Blacks duo the week off, along with Cruden, who has played 120 minutes so far this season.

Chiefs playmaker Aaron Cruden.
Chiefs playmaker Aaron Cruden. Photo credit: Photosport
Anton Lienert-Brown.
Anton Lienert-Brown. Photo credit: Photosport

Gatland feels next Saturday's match against the Sunwolves is a good chance to give other players in the squad some game time. 

"It's a big week next week" Gatland explained. "Players will be rested, but players coming in next week for the Sunwolves in Tokyo hopefully come in with some confidence and excitement about the chance to go up against the Sunwolves.

"Sam, Anton, and Aaron will all get a rest next week. It's important at the start of the season we rotate the squad, but we also have to keep other players in the squad getting a chance.

"These first four games are pretty crucial to hopefully set us up to having a good season."

Last year, a relatively inexperienced Chiefs side lost 30-15 to the Sunwolves in Hamilton, but under Gatland this team is different. 

One player who will be going to Japan is Damian McKenzie, who played the entire match in his first outing since tearing his ACL nine months ago. 

"It was exciting to be back and exciting to come away with the win against the Crusaders," McKenzie said. 

"I'm just happy to be out there and play as long as I have. Obviously, I lost a few minutes last year so I'm trying to make up for a few this year."

Join us at 4:45pm Saturday for live updates of the Chiefs v Sunwolves Super Rugby clash