Liam Messam supportive of round-robin Super Rugby, common sense officiating

Liam Messam carries the ball against the Crusaders MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images

A return to the days of round-robin competition and a little more 'common sense', that's what Chiefs veteran Liam Messam wants for Super Rugby as he prepares to sign off from the tournament after 12 seasons in Hamilton.

The former All Blacks back-rower will likely play his final home game on Friday as the Chiefs welcome the Hurricanes to Waikato Stadium. While not implausible he could be back at the same venue, against the same opposition, next week, it's highly likely the Hurricanes will instead host their quarterfinal dual in Wellington in seven days' time.

So Messam will instead wave goodbye to the Hamilton faithful on Friday, with the 161-game veteran set to take up a contract with French giants, Toulon, later this year.

"The Chiefs have been a big part of my life, they have been my life pretty much since I was an 18-year-old coming up here to Hamilton," Messam told ESPN. "So I'm looking forward to coming out at home one more time and [giving] the fans a good sending off."

Having spent more than a decade in Super Rugby, sampling the Super 14 and three different variances of the conference system, Messam is well placed to air his thoughts on the competition's best format.

While he acknowledges the logistical difficulties that go with trying to make a round-robin format work across five countries, Messam is adamant it is the design that best serves the competition's integrity and also has the support of the majority of players.

"Everyone says that they would love to go back to the round-robin system, I'm a big fan of the round-robin," he told ESPN. "It evens it out a bit, I guess, because everyone gets to play each other and I know SANZAAR have talked about how, logistically, it's impossible to sort like that.

"But I think the round-robin is the best way to go for this format; even though the fans love to see, I'm sure, the derby games on both sides of the ditch. I just think playing each other once and then coming out with the top eight is the best way to go about this competition."

As SANZAAR continues to debate what structure the competition will take from 2020, it's World Rugby who have the ire of rugby fans across the globe following a June Test series marred by constant Television Match Official rulings and seemingly inconsistent applications of the foul play laws.

There was outrage across Australia when Israel Folau was first cited, and then suspended for an aerial contact challenge while, a week earlier, Frenchman Benjamin Fall was red-carded for a similar offence only for him to later escape further sanction.

Understanding of fans frustrations, Messam has simple solution to help quell the growing discontent.

"I can see, World Rugby, what they're trying to do in protecting the player and I'm all for that, protecting the player," Messam said. "I just think common sense has got to come into it sometimes; I'm all backing the player safety rule but I just think common sense, sometimes, needs to prevail."

When asked about the endless use of technology, Messam added: "Technology is everywhere at the moment, not just with TMOs and the refs, also with our rugby trainings and all of that. It's just the way that the world has come to now and I think if they can help the game then I'm all for it. But if it hinders or doesn't help it at all, sometimes a bit of old-school knowledge always helps."

The Chiefs head into Friday's clash on the back of two straight wins, albeit with a few late heart flutters against the Brumbies last week. After a slow start to the season, Colin Cooper's side have found their feet and should not be discounted during the playoffs even though their road to the final will take some conquering.

"We've just really taken it back to the basics, we've just really stripped our game down and just worked on the fundamentals of rugby," Messam said of his side's recent upward trend. "Rugby's a pretty simple game and we knew if we could get those [basics] right and get the right energy and the right attitude going into the last part of the competition, then we know it would put us in a great place.

"And we've worked hard enough now to guarantee a playoffs spot, we've got the Hurricanes [on Friday] and the boys have worked really hard during the June break while the All Blacks were away just to make sure we did have an opportunity to put on the Chiefs jersey again (during the finals)."

Sitting out Friday's game will be star fly-half Damian McKenzie, the 23-year-old forced to watch on from the sidelines to fulfil is All Blacks rest requirements. Whether it's good fortune or has been Cooper's plan all along, it now looks a shrewd strategy with the Chiefs all but certain to face the Hurricanes again next week.

Asked for his opinion on the fleet-footed playmaker, Messam instead chose to highlight a lesser-known facet of McKenzie's game.

"He's real special, he can turn a game inside-out and he can create anything from nothing," Messam said. "To have those sort of players in your team; sometimes I just sit back and go 'wow, what the hell has just happened there', and I'm sure fans are the same.

"Little flick passes, behind the back; but what really impresses me about that kid is that he's really tough, I don't think people understand how tough he is. He throws his body into contact like he's Brodie Retallick and he never backs down from anybody, and he's always leading.

"He's a great kid to have around and his understanding of the game is getting better at 10; I think the more he plays in that position the more he understands the game and he's going to be a very, very deadly No. 10."