I had the opportunity to sit down with Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie today at Chiefs HQ, and in just 30 minutes it was clear to me why the Chiefs has become what it has over the past few seasons.
Dave Rennie is the most successful coach to ever take the helm of the Chiefs. Rennie coached the club to winning the Investec Super Rugby title in his first year at the helm. In just two seasons Rennie has taken the Chiefs from a side that the New Zealand public thought of as lucky to ever make playoff football, to a team that is expected to make the finals and expected to win the title.
Rennie’s impact on this side will last for a very, very long time.
Dave Rennie came into the Chiefs as the successful coach to lead the New Zealand U20’s to three Junior World Cup victories.
But despite the successes since arriving in Hamilton, the Chiefs in the minds of many weren’t as clinical in 2014 as the past couple of seasons.
“The word frustration comes to mind” Rennie said when discussing the 2014 Chiefs campaign, where the double time defending champions were eliminated in the first round of the Super Rugby finals by the Brumbies.
But Rennie says the team should take heart from their season after clawing back into numerous games after being down on the scoreboard early on. “We didn’t seem as desperate as the first couple of years but we showed tremendous heart out on the field in many of our games” Rennie reflected.
On game day, life in the Chiefs camp appears to be relatively simple and straightforward. An afternoon meet up and a feed, before the players go home before converging at Chiefs HQ a couple of hours later. Rennie prepares a team speech to read to his team at around 6pm, before the team catch the bus and head to the ground where from then on is game mode.
There has been much talk about the signing of youngster Damian McKenzie, and Rennie has faith that the young man will be able to back up Aaron Cruden at first five in his debut Super Rugby season next year.
As is probably the case with every interview Dave Rennie will do throughout the next year, I was quick to bring up the topic of world rugby’s most talked about player, Sonny Bill Williams.
“You wouldn’t get a more professional player and he has such a massive impact on these guys” Rennie described Williams in terms of his impact on the team, “he is a phenomenal trainer” Rennie added, “he’s always taking notes on what he can work on and plans on how he is going to fit that into his training that week” Rennie said about the professionalism of rugby’s most talked about player.
It is clear that SBW has a major impact on the Chiefs unit which will continue next year after the superstar returns to New Zealand.
Rennie disagrees with the negative opinions that follow Williams strongly.
“Your right about the controversy that follows him, but its media driven” Rennie explained, “all the stuff you hear about tall poppy is just total rubbish” Rennie added, “he doesn’t want special treatment either and people who make those sorts of comments have never met him” Rennie said.
The future for Dave Rennie is certain for at least the next year. Rennie will coach the Chiefs in 2015, and while Rennie admits to having aspirations to coach the All Blacks one day, he says he does plan to settle overseas at some point in the future. “I think my next job beyond the Chiefs will be overseas somewhere” the coach said when addressing his future.
Whatever the future for Rennie, he is clearly a coach that is one of the best New Zealand has ever seen.