Chiefs to lose stars to Sevens

Date published: June 21 2015

The Chiefs will be without the services of Liam Messam and Sonny Bill Williams in 2016 as both pursue playing in the Olympics.

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie confirmed the loss of his captain to New Zealand Sevens after his side were knocked out of the Super Rugby play-offs on Saturday.

Messam has been a big leader for the Chiefs in recent years while they clinched two Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013.

"[We lose] not just [Messam's] playing ability but his leadership – he's very charismatic, incredibly passionate – he'll be very difficult to replace," Rennie told Stuff.

"But it's exciting for him. He obviously won a gold medal at Commonwealth Games and to try and win an Olympic gold would be pretty special so we'll fully support it and who knows, he may be back in '17."

A whole host of players are leaving the Chiefs at the end of the year for contracts overseas, with James Lowe being the only outside back left from this year's squad.

Rennie however views those gaps as opportunities for new players to shine.

"There are still a lot of spots open and wider training group spots of course, but there'll obviously be a fair few new faces coming in which is exciting," added Rennie.

"There might be 10 or 11 changes with guys getting other opportunities and so on, but that's pretty standard. We normally lose a quarter to a third of our side each year.

"More often than not it's been some of the older guys heading off later in their career but last year Bundee [Aki] left and Gareth Anscombe and guys like that who potentially could have played another six, seven or eight years in New Zealand so I suppose that trend is more common now and we're seeing the same thing with the likes of [Tameifuna] and Tom Marshall.