Super Rugby Pacific: Chiefs' rivals on notice after training fisticuffs on eve of 2024 competition

The sight of Chiefs forwards throwing haymakers at each other on the eve of Super Rugby Pacific 2024 has sounded a warning to their rivals, as last year's runners-up seek to go one better.

Newshub was on hand, as tempers spilt over during training at Hamilton, with teammates Samipeni Finau and Hamilton Burr getting to know each other a little better during a lineout drill.

That internal tension hasn't greatly surprised other Super Rugby teams, who see it as a sign the Chiefs are building nicely towards their final rematch against the champion Crusaders on Friday.

Crusaders captain Scott Barrett and the Chiefs mix it up at training.
Crusaders captain Scott Barrett and the Chiefs mix it up at training. Photo credit: Newshub

"I guess tempers obviously flared there a wee bit," chuckled Crusaders captain Scott Barrett. "I don't know the whole story, but I saw a wee clip of it.

"I think they're right up for the challenge and some fierce forwards units by the looks... we're anticipating a tough battle. They're obviously sharpening their tools and they'll be right in this fight."

Prop George Bower has obviously enjoyed the melee from afar.

"Boys will be boys," he dismissed. "It's always good to have a bit of edge at training.

"I definitely know the Chiefs will be ready this weekend." 

Crusaders forwards coach Dan Perrin agreed: "Iron sharpens iron, doesn't it.

"If you're training and competing hard against each other Monday to Friday, you're setting yourself up well for Saturday.

"We've seen our fair few of them over the years, and it means guys are competing hard and challenging each other. As long as it's done in the right manner, it has a part to play at training."

With Crusaders coach Scott Robertson promoted to the All Blacks, taking Blues coach Leon MacDonald and Hurricanes coach Jason Holland with him, and veteran players either retiring or looking offshore for one final payday, the Super Rugby deck has been reshuffled, with the Chiefs looming as real contenders under incumbent coach Clayton McMillan.

Their readiness has also been noted further up State Highway One, where the Blues edged their southern rivals in a final pre-season hitout last weekend.

"I think there's a bit of feeling there," observed new Blues coach Vern Cotter. "They're playing the Crusaders, so they'll be warming themselves up for that one.  

"Competitive edge is important. We like to encourage, not fisticuffs, but certainly getting our players ready for a game, and being competitive with them prepares them in a better way."

Join Newshub at 7pm Friday for live updates of the Chiefs v Crusaders Super Rugby Pacific clash