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Holah puts Spencer in sights

Tuesday, March 8, 2005    allblacks.com    

After a long time on the road the Chiefs return home for their first Rebel Sport Super 12 match of 2005 against the Blues, sporting their trump card Carlos Spencer. The Chiefs hope to counter his individual brilliance with their own in-form tackling machine Marty Holah.

“Like any first-five, if you can close him down you can make it pretty hard for the rest of the team,” Holah told allblacks.com. “Carlos is one of those guys who likes to take things on his own shoulders and have a go and if it doesn’t come off he gets frustrated and annoyed a bit.”

But things have been going well for Spencer so far in this year’s competition and Holah has played enough games against, and alongside Spencer with the All Blacks to know he has a tough assignment ahead of him.

“He’s a tough man to mark up against. He’s got so many tricks up his sleeve with a pretty good step, grubber kicks and a good turn of pace. He likes to have a crack at running around the forwards as well which makes life hard.

“He’s probably been more physical than he has been in the past so that has been noted.”

The Chiefs have had a below par opening two rounds of the Super 12 with away losses to the Waratahs (25-7) and Crusaders (50-18) – a game which got away on the Chiefs early.

“The Crusaders game was hugely disappointing. We just went to sleep in a couple of areas of the game and you just can’t do that against the Crusaders and they punished us.”

The Chiefs have a chance to get their season moving in the right direction against the Blues and preparations began well: “We had a pretty good start to the week and tried something different. Normally we have a fitness test first thing on Monday but we went to the pools and ran up the hydro slide and slid back down repeatedly. It was pretty cool and it lifted the guys up and we re-focused on this week’s game.”

Holah makes his 48th Super 12 appearance this weekend and particularly enjoys clashes with the northern raiders: “I definitely enjoy playing the Blues and think there’s the Waikato-Auckland / city slickers-cow cockies thing going on and we always love to beat them.

“One of the highlights last year was beating the Blues in Auckland and we took a lot of confidence out of that game. We’ll look to repeat that this week.”

The Blues have won six of their nine Super 12 matches against the Chiefs since 1996, but the encounters have normally always been close affairs. The biggest winning margin was 18 points to the Chiefs in 2000. The average winning margin for the fixture is eight points.