Chiefs admire Jaguares' Super achievement

Daniel Gilhooly
Argentina's Jaguares will play in Super Rugby's finals for the second straight season

Reaching the quarter-finals was a remarkable feat for the Chiefs but they accept they play second-fiddle to the Jaguares in the Super Rugby fairytale stakes.

Two of the competition's form teams meet in Buenos Aires on Saturday morning (AEDT), having recovered from forgettable starts that had both residing in the bottom three after six rounds.

The Chiefs overcame a crippling run of injuries, including the absence of All Blacks Sam Cane, Brodie Retallick and Damian McKenzie for long periods, to qualify seventh.

Winning four of their last five games doesn't compare with the Jaguares, however, who were beaten in just one of their last 10 to clinch the African Conference and set up their first-ever home playoffs match.

Chiefs assistant coach Neil Barnes tipped his hat to the vastly-improved South Americans, who had conquered an onerous travel itinerary.

"When you look at the Jaguares, they do this (long distance flights) all the time," Barnes told reporters.

"For them to get second in the competition when they travel every second game, they need to be congratulated."

The Chiefs have made one change to the starting team who crushed the Melbourne Rebels 59-8 last week, with the injured Alex Nankivell (knee) making way for Tumua Manu at outside centre.

By contrast the Jaguares' starting XV has been overhauled from the second-string side who hammered the Sunwolves 52-10 last week.

Only wing Sebastian Cancelliere and centre Matias Orlando have retained their places, with a host of Pumas internationals returning to the fray after a week off.

If victorious, the Jaguares will remain in Buenos Aires for their semi-final, against the winners of the Brumbies-Sharks showdown in Canberra on Saturday.

The Chiefs will travel again if successful, to either Canberra or Durban.

JAGUARES: Emiliano Boffelli, Sebastian Cancelliere, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo De La Fuente (capt), Matias Moroni, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Tomas Cubelli, Javier Ortega Desio, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera, Tomas Lavanini, Guido Petti, Santiago Medrano, Agustin Creevy, Mayco Vivas. Res: Julian Montoya, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Enrique Pieretto, Tomas Lezana, Francisco Gorrissen, Felipe Ezcurra, Domingo Miotti, Santiago Carreras.

CHIEFS: Solomon Alaimalo, Shaun Stevenson, Tumua Manu, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sean Wainui, Jack Debreczeni, Brad Weber, Pita Gus Sowakula, Sam Cane (capt), Lachlan Boshier, Tyler Ardron, Brodie Retallick, Angus Ta'avao, Nathan Harris, Atu Moli. Res: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Aidan Ross, Nepo Laulala, Jesse Parete, Mitchell Jacbobson, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Marty McKenzie, Alex Nankivell/Ataata Moeakiola.