Chiefs assistant coach Wayne Smith confirmed discussions about potential Super Rugby centurion Liam Messam’s involvement against the Southern Kings on Saturday morning are still ongoing.
Messam is currently on 99 Super Rugby matches and could be one of a select group of New Zealand players to achieve the milestone.
Should he run onto Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Stadium on Saturday morning (NZT), Messam will become the 26th New Zealander to reach 100 Super Rugby matches and the first from the Waikato franchise.
Smith answered questions around Liam Messam’s potential inclusion in this week’s match by saying he had been in discussions with the Chiefs No.6 about the match.
“The ideal would be for him to play that [100th Super Rugby match] in Hamilton, but Liam being Liam he’ll want to be in every game so there’s a bit of negotiation left.”
Newly converted No.8 Ross Filipo is one player who looks certain to mark a milestone on Saturday.
Filipo could make his debut for the Waikato franchise if he is selected on Saturday ahead of Counties Manukau’s Fritz Lee.
Filipo said he was excited about potentially making his debut for the franchise.
“I’ve been a little bit disappointed I’ve had to wait three or four games in,” Filipo said.
“I’m really, really excited – I want to get the first cap under my belt.”
Filipo admitted to a change in preparation, both mentally and physically, as he made the conversion from a lock to a loose forward.
“Most of my work is focussed around loose forward play, so all my analysis comes from that angle,” added Flipo.
“There’s been a mental shift and there’s had to be a physical shift too – I’ve had to drop a few kegs and had to put on some speed.”
The result is a more mobile Filipo looking to debut for a side Smith described as having an unquestionable work ethic.
“I think the team in gen has played pretty well together,” Smith said when asked about the impact of losing former All Blacks second five-eighths Sonny Bill Williams to rugby league outfit Sydney Roosters.
“It just takes a lot of coaching and a lot of work for the boys. This isn’t a passive group by any means, they just work really hard – equally as hard as any other team I’ve been a part of.
“The start’s been promising and they’re showing good character.”