As the Chiefs seek to defend their first ever Super Rugby title, their new jerseys, just released by adidas, reflect the history and tradition of their region, the largest catchment area of any of New Zealand’s five Super Rugby franchises.
Featuring a black torso with yellow sleeves sporting the adidas three stripes in red, the jersey is visually stunning, and boasts a stylised Koru symbol on the front, designed with the help of local iwi. The names of the provincial unions which make up the Chiefs side, Counties-Manukau, Waikato, Thames Valley, King Country and Bay of Plenty, are embossed on the collar, paying homage to the countries’ most geographically diverse franchise.
The Chiefs have retained the bulk of their championship winning side from the 2012 campaign, although the loss of Sonny Bill Williams to the 13-man code will be an obvious blow.
Veteran lock Ross Felipo returns from a stint overseas to add further experience to the pack, while exciting youngsters including Taranaki’s NZ U20 hooker Rhys Marshall and former Canterbury winger, Fijian-born Patrick Osbourne, will undoubtedly bolster the depth of the squad.
The injury-prone Richard Kahui will be a vital cog in the Chiefs bid to defend their title, with the silky skills of the All Black utility back essential if they are to fill the void in the backline left by SBW’s departure. But, all in all, with quality players like Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Aaron Cruden steering the backline, and Liam Messam and Craig Clarke leading the forwards, the Chiefs will be an incredibly tough proposition for any of the other 14 sides in next year’s competition, and could well be around at the business end of the season to challenge for their second title.