Chiefs Player Ratings vs Highlanders (Round 1, 2022)
Written by Max Sharp.
The 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season was opened up with a victory for the Chiefs over the Highlanders, in a closely-fought game, with territory being 50% for each team. With a 26-16 win for the Chiefs, this should hopefully provide context on how the season will shape up for the two heavyweights in the competition. Let's dive into how the players performed representing their teams!
Chiefs co-captain, Sam Cane (as pictured in 2016), had a solid performance to begin the 2022 Super Rugby season. Photo: Max Sharp.
Chiefs Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Ollie Norris (9/10)
The big prop is making big moves for his career right now. The Chiefs' 91% scrum success can be put down to Norris' 66-minute performance, while he was also able to make 9 metres from 3 carries. Norris made the second-to-most tackles for the Chiefs, with 10.
Hooker - Bradley Slater (3/10)
Slater is a very talented athlete, but appeared in too much of a rush in the lineout. The Chiefs' lineout success rate was only 69%, compared to the Highlanders' 91%. Slater was subbed off at 52 minutes, having only made 4 tackles.
Tighthead Prop - Sione Mafileo (5/10)
He wasn't involved with the match much around the field, only made a single metre from his lone carry, whilst only making 5 tackles. Expect him to get more involved outside the scrum next week.
Lock 4 - Laghlan McWhannell (8/10)
McWhannell was first signed to the Chiefs for the 2019 season and has finally debuted after four years of injury setbacks. Lived up to the hype, being the sole member of the tight-five to win a turnover. Very solid performance, also managing 23 metres and 7 tackles.
Lock 5 - Brodie Retallick (8/10)
By no means a vintage performance, but a very good one, Retallick did a bit more than just the basics of his position. 21 metres from 6 carries, 8 tackles and also 2 offloads. The best of Retallick's two offloads set the try up for Emoni Narawa, a very entertaining piece of play.
Blindside Flanker - Luke Jacobson (5/10)
An average game from Jacobson. After having his knee heavily bandaged, he definitely looked constrained. Only four tackles, didn't manage any turnovers. The coaches made the right call to take him off at half time, hopefully he isn't injured for the long-term.
Openside Flanker - Sam Cane (7/10)
Cane's best performance since 2020. Though his presence at the ruck was non-existent, he made 5 passes. Cane was the joint second for most tackles alongside Norris, with 10. Helped himself to the opening try as well, running an excellent support line to score.
Number 8 - Pita Gus Sowakula (10/10)
You can't start your season much better than that! Sowakula was involved with everything. Not only did he run 45 metres off 13 carries, he also made 10 passes and was the top tackler with 15. His try off the base of the scrum will be talked about for a long time.
Halfback - Xavier Roe (7/10)
The halfback has lots of potential and is still 23 years old. Roe displayed good communication with Ioane, while he was brave enough to complete 2/3 tackles. His game management is improving, he's a future All Black. Subbed off for Weber at 52 minutes.
First-Five - Josh Ioane (8/10)
Ioane's stats were by no means a masterclass, he'll be very happy with his debut though. Tactical kicking made a big difference for the Chiefs, most of these were off Ioane. 23 passes as well, they have a good game-reader to steer the ship.
Left Wing - Jonah Lowe (6/10)
Lowe had a bit of a mixed game. Not a lot of ball the Chiefs had was heading towards the left wing, while Lowe also popped up at centre at times. While the additional passer was a role he suited, he was only able to run 35 metres and make 2 tackles.
Second-Five - Quinn Tupaea (8/10)
The former New Zealand Schools skipper continues to improve. Made the most carries of the backline with 12, also making the most tackles of the backs with 9. Was also able to manage a turnover, Tupaea wouldn't look out of place as a flanker at all.
Centre - Alex Nankivell (5/10)
Nankivell was outperformed defensively by the opposing 13, Fetuli Paea, while his chances on attack were also limited. Nankivell made up for his mere 16 metres and 6 carries with a turnover and 6 passes, an average performance for him.
Right Wing - Shaun Stevenson (5/10)
While Stevenson has always been a metre-making demon, what happens with those metres continues to be a mystery. Did not often have support runners with him, Stevenson needs to get more opportunities with ball-in-hand next time.
Fullback - Emoni Narawa (7/10)
Though debuting in a position he isn't normally in, Narawa looked to be at home in the 15 jersey, making 6 tackles. His tactical kicking was sound, while he was also able to make 46 metres from only 7 carries. Solid performance.
Reserve Hooker - Samisoni Taukei'aho (6/10)
His 50th game for the Chiefs at just 24 years old. Did his core roles to a good standard, making 6 tackles off the bench. Not a lot to offer in attack, only 9 metres from his 5 carries, but the lineout was far more settled. Needs to start next week.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - Atu Moli (no rating)
Moli only played 14 minutes of rugby for the Chiefs in this game, not enough game time to be given a genuine player rating.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - Angus Ta'avao (6/10)
Did his core roles well enough, scrum didn't fade away, while he also managed 4 tackles, 6 metres and 1 defender beaten. Will need to provide more as the season goes on though, his place in the All Blacks isn't exactly solidified.
Reserve Lock - Naitoa Ah Kuoi (6/10)
Not too shabby for only 14 minutes of play, got very involved in his return from injury. Made 18 metres from just 3 carries, while also providing 2 passes and 4 tackles. Perhaps he could be considered to start at 6 next week if Jacobson is ruled out?
Reserve Loose Forward - Kaylum Boshier (5/10)
Boshier's hand-eye coordination is a great feature, gained from his cricket, it was used to make a surprising 5 passes. Only 3 tackles and 2 carries though, has big boots to fill with his older brother now in Japan. Expect Boshier to improve more with time.
Reserve Halfback - Brad Weber (6/10)
Was a good call to have him on the bench in case Roe had a tough game. When he came on, Weber made 31 passes, and beat a defender, proving that maybe he can indeed be Aaron Smith's replacement in test matches. Now a better 9 than TJ Perenara.
Reserve First-Five - Bryn Gatland (7/10)
While the stats don't tell us much about Gatland's performance, he bought excellent communication off the bench. He would dip in and away from rucks, selecting which forward would carry, while his 75th minute penalty put the scoreline out of reach.
Reserve Utility Back - Chase Tiatia (no rating)
Only played for 14 minutes, made just 1 carry and 2 passes. Not enough for Tiatia to get a genuine player rating.