Rugby News, The Chiefs rearrange coaching system with Clayton McMillan installed as full-time head coach & Warren Gatland into the director of rugby role

Wow!! An incredible decision by The Chiefs who will keep the faith with Clayton McMillan as head coach next season, having helped turn from a winless 2020 to being the Top 2 finalists earlier this year in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

There’s no need to change a winning formula that’s going to benefit the team’s long-term framework as McMillan will also keep his existing Maori All Blacks commitments in the same role since 2017, so it’s great to see the Perth born coach have another crack to stop the Crusaders’ long-running dominance.

What does it mean for Warren Gatland when he returned to New Zealand with the Chiefs on a four-year contract after a fruitful stint for Wales at the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, didn’t win a game in 2020 but had to focus on the British & Irish Lions this year?

He’s not going anywhere but Gatland will return to Waikato under a new position as director of rugby which is a system being adopted by most Northern Hemisphere & some former South African Super Rugby clubs, He already tasted plenty of European success before at Provincial & International level & hopes that experience will help push the Chiefs further when Super Rugby Pacific begins in February 2022.

The upcoming journey will be a bit different when it comes to playing the regular-season portion, then you have the return of the knockout rounds since 2019 beginning with the Quarter Final & Semi-Final before facing the other best two for that ultimate championship, but we’ll see if The Chiefs are progressing that became 2nd best behind Crusaders or regressing like the 2020 Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign under McMillan.

Week 2 2020 Super Rugby Aotearoa Chat with Kirstie Stanway

Image Reference: Pixabay, 20/7/17

Earlier today, I get to spend some time chatting with a familiar face who hosts Kick-Off on Thursday nights & one of the weekend live Super Rugby/International Tests/Mitre 10 Cup matches during the pre-game, half-time & post-match shows on Sky Sport NZ.

Her name is Kirstie Stanway as she and I will go through one from the weekend’s games where he hosted on-site with Sir John Kirwan, Karl Tenana & Honey Hireme in Hamilton, Waikato as well as checking up on each of the five New Zealand Super Rugby Teams.

Check out my video as well as the written version of this interview with Kirstie below.

1. Let’s start with the Chiefs v Blues; we saw a close first 40 from both sides. Still, the Blues’ powerful attacking play proved the real deal in the end, When the Blues host the Highlanders this Saturday, why is this upcoming match-up so crucial to the Aucklanders going into the climax of this year’s Super Rugby Aotearoa?

Kirstie: Auckland hasn’t had such success in a long time. They are the biggest city in New Zealand with more than a million people.

More than a quarter of the population lives there. Every sporting franchise has not been successful other than the NZ Breakers in the National Basketball League for a long time.

And Aucklanders, they live and breathe sport, so they want their sides to win. But the Blues have not been good enough in the past, and now they finally are.

This is the season. Every year, they talk about this is the year, this is the NZ Warriors (National Rugby League) year, this is the Blues year, but it hasn’t been.

This is really the year of the Blues having secured two wins, five wins in a row & two wins in this domestic-only competition in New Zealand derby when previously they haven’t been able to beat New Zealand teams & other teams on the road like this is major for them.

2. The Highlanders just came back from their week-long break, where do you stand right now regarding their chances of claiming top spot?

It’s going to be a challenging game for the Highlanders (Dunedin). They got off to a great start v The Chiefs in Week 1.

They seem like they had improved since before lockdown when it was just the Super Rugby competition where they struggled.

But after a week off when they only played one week of Rugby in the last three & a half months & coming to Auckland to play and form against the Blues team.

I don’t rate their chances at all. Sorry Highlanders fans!

3. Now the Hurricanes have the week-long off, where do they go from there?

It’s very tough with no wins, two losses & now a bye.

And this is a competition (Super Rugby Aotearoa) where we only have ten weeks with eight games for each team to play & no finals.

Every former player or expert you listen to has always said that this competition is a sprint, and you need to win games from the beginning.

So it’s going to be very difficult for the Hurricanes to come back, but then you think Ardie Savea is still coming back from injury as he still needs to bounce back with his form as well as Jordie Barrett who will return to the Wellington-based side.

They will have chances to snatch victories for sure, but again it will be a big task to try and take home the top spot in the standings itself.

4. Looking at the Chiefs, how late is too late for the boys from Waikato to catch up having seen two losses in a row with another harsh road v the Crusaders ahead?

Their only saving grace for The Chiefs would be they have played well v The Crusaders over the last eight years.

Considering that the Crusaders are such a top team, The Chiefs still managed to secure wins over them (Christchurch-based side) when they’re not expecting, so you never know the impossible could happen, but they are facing a very tall task.

This is the first game back in Christchurch where the Crusaders get to watch their team play and basically for The Crusaders; they are a sidestick with the All Blacks.

And The Chiefs are missing Sam Cane. Without him, they have inexperienced blocks.

Although they got a fantastic backline, The Chiefs are not firing this season and not showing enough threat before the lockdown anyway.

5. What are your views on the new Chiefs head coach, Warren Gatland, who just left his previous post at Wales after the Rugby World Cup last year?


How good is that when we have a world-class coach managing in Super Rugby.

Warren has done everything; he should be a national coach, right?

He’s coached Wales & Lions in the past; now he’s back home in a Super Rugby side, it’s incredible.

6. How long do we expect to see Warren Gatland sort out a fully functional Chiefs side?

He’d be hoping that he gets positive results immediately, wouldn’t he?

I would say not yet at this stage, who knows if the Chiefs would get them this season?

Next year, Warren will return to coach the Lions for their upcoming tour in South Africa, so he’s not actually involved before he sees out another two years (2022 & 2023) with the Chiefs.

Who knows what the reason why he came back to New Zealand is?

They asked the media have questioned Warren whether or not if he has aspirations to coach the All Blacks, which he has answered no.

But you have to think that he has come back here because he wants to coach the national side, right?

He’s such a fantastic coach like that who has done everything in coaching, why would you not want to coach one of the world’s best teams?

7. Predict your scores for Week 3 of this weekend’s Super Rugby Aotearoa match-ups?

It’s tough for me to say this because my head and my heart are different things about that game in Christchurch.

We’ll start with The Blues v The Highlander; Blues win by 12 points and above.

Looking at Christchurch.

I love The Chiefs, which belongs to my heart, but my head would be stupid, not to say The Crusaders.

Let’s say The Crusaders by eight.


I want to say many thanks to Kirstie for spending some time to chat with me.

When she & I first touched base off-air via video call, we’re able to share a few our cultural whereabouts as I live in Sydney, Australia, while Kirstie stations in Auckland, New Zealand.

And yes, she is a true rugby union fan donning for her beloved Chiefs side from Waikato.

Hopefully, I look forward to talking to Kirstie again from time to time as she does a superb job on Sky Sport NZ’s Rugby Union coverage.