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Chiefs preview 2013

By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter @SkysportsTC.   Last Updated: 12/02/13 10:44am

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The defending champions face a real arm wrestle to defend their title this time around.

Having overcome an a late deep in form during the regular season, the Chiefs turned it on when it mattered the most - with wins over the Crusaders and then the Sharks to claim their maiden crown.

The success was all the more remarkable as they were considered outsiders at the start of the season, with question marks over their pack.

However the likes of Toby Smith, Hika Elliot and Craig Clarke rose to the challenge, while Sam Cane emerged as the heir apparent to All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

Dave Rennie has moved to counter the loss of Kane Thompson and Sona Taumalolo with the additions of the experienced Ross Filipo and former New Zealand Under-20s prop Solomona Sakalia.

However the biggest hole to fill comes in the backs following the departure of Sonny Bill Williams. Untested Counties Manukau centre Bundee Aki and former Hurricanes back Charlie Ngatai have been given their chance to make the step up, while Gareth Anscombe will provide valuable competition to Aaron Cruden, who was last season's top scorer with 251 points, in the No 10 jersey.

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