Chiefs admit travel a factor

Getty Images     29 Jul 2013     Getty Images

Jake White's men departed South Africa on Sunday (NZT) for the first leg of a taxing trip across eight time zones before playing the most crucial 80 minutes of the season.

They will stay in Canberra for two days before heading to Sydney to board another flight to Auckland. They are likely to be based there for two days before taking a bus to Waikato Stadium on Saturday night.

It's a cruel journey that many believe took the wind out of the Sharks' sails before they finally arrived to receive their 37-6 belting at Waikato Stadium in last year's final.

"I know from experience that the travel does play a little factor," said Chiefs co-captain Craig Clarke.

"It's awesome to be able to prepare in your own facilities and have that extra day of training.

"It does make a bit of a difference but if they've got an experienced crew then they'll be able to deal with that and maybe have a lesser training load but a real mental focus."

After defeating the Crusaders 20-19 in Saturday's semi-final Chiefs coach Dave Rennie vowed not to be 'sucked in' to believing that the Brumbies would turn up with anything less than their best performance.

Unlike the Sharks, who made the trip twice in the lead up to the final, the Brumbies play a less laboured style of game and will look for their kickers to secure good field position before mounting an attack.

"They look to choke teams in their own half, they've got great kickers across the board," said first-five Aaron Cruden.

The Chiefs have not met the Brumbies this season but there is a familiar feel to their game - leading scorers Christian Lealiifano and Henry Speight have both played for Waikato in the ITM Cup.

Cruden believed there would be minor changes in their approach to the game but said that the emphasis would be on replicating the defensive effort that held the Crusaders at bay in the final stages of the semi-final.

"Yes and no, you always have to change little things against different opposition. It will be interesting - the coaches put a lot of effort into analysing different teams," he said.

The Chiefs scored two quick-fire tries that effectively sealed the Crusaders' fate but Cruden believes they have yet to reach their best.

"We have done it well at stages this season but we just need to make sure that we do get that balance," added Cruden.

"The good thing about this team is that we like to play so if it's on to move the ball that's what we're going to do. When we go into our shells that's where we can get unstuck."

Cruden felt a disappointing showing against the Blues in the final round robin game provided motivation for his outstanding all-round effort.

He said the departure of Richard Kahui [Japan], Craig Clarke [Ireland], Lelia Masaga [Japan], Toby Smith [Rebels] and Brendon Leonard [Italy] could be the catalyst for an even better performance in the final.