Lienert-Brown looks forward to midfield contest

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Lynn McConnell     10 Apr 2019     Getty Images

Second five-eighths Anton Lienert-Brown said the Chiefs had talked about the neighbourly rivalry between the sides but the way the Blues were going with four wins meant they couldn't look into the past.

"I guess they're coming off four good wins and we've had two wins in row so I guess it's the battle of two teams that have gained some momentum and I think it's a good stage for both teams to see where they are at," he said.

Part of the Blues' recovery has been the role played especially by returning All Black Ma'a Nonu, but also Sonny Bill Williams in the midfield and facing a contest with Nonu this week would be exciting.
Lienert-Brown said he had looked up to Nonu and Williams growing up and putting himself up against the best was something he looked forward too.

"It's going to be an awesome challenge this week," he said.

Nonu had built into the season well since rejoining the Blues after his post-World Cup stint in France. Lienert-Brown said he used to watch closely various aspects of Nonu's play and he was still doing those things very well.

"I admire the way he plays and it's really exciting to get the opportunity to come up against those guys this week.

"Ma'a is a very dangerous, very powerful ball carrier but what I really like about him is he has got great distribution. He really worked hard on that over the years until now he is almost like a 10 [first five-eighths] in a way who can carry the ball really hard as well," he said.

Just how the competition might play out with World Cup selection in mind, Lienert-Brown said he wasn't looking that far ahead. His focus was on doing his job for the Chiefs first and foremost.

"I think it's about challenging myself against the best and I just see it as a really exciting opportunity without thinking too much of what's to come," he said.

In his own game, Lienert-Brown had been working on his kicking game which had become a key part of modern midfield play. He was still coming to grips with it and said he probably had to practice more than most.

His midfield partner at centre Tumua Manu had built well during the year and as one of the hardest working players in the side he deserved everything he could get in the game.

"He always doing extra. I love his skill set, he's an accurate defender, he's got a great catch-and-pass and he does a lot of good little things that wingers are getting good reward off. I've been really impressed with him," he said.

Speaking about the adjustment the Chiefs have had to make to their defence changes, Lienert-Brown said it was about dealing with little habits.

"It was very much a northern hemisphere style and we've been footy players in the Kiwi style of defence for years and years and it was getting yourself out of those little habits but Barnesy [Neil Barnes] has always said, 'Just stick with it, we'll get it in the end', and now we're getting lots of rewards.

"All the boys are in those good habits and know the system really well," he said.