Enjoy being a target, you Chiefs are the champions after all
Part of the Chiefs philosophy this season has been to embrace the fact that they are the champions, the chased team, the alpha lion on top of the mountain – and a big part of the BTB campaign now evident is that only by soaking up the pressure, will they again repeat their heroics performed last year.
It is something the Chiefs have taken in their stride, showing that crucial ability to adapt to different opposition, so important as many teams have turned up to Waikato Stadium just looking at shutting the champions down, and Dave Rennie and the coaches have planned accordingly.
For a Chiefs team that doesn’t boast the galaxy of international stars that some champion outfits have had in the past, ensuring that they don’t crack under pressure has been a learned asset.
Now, the Chiefs are just 80 minutes away from duplicating their feats of 2012.
Chiefs assistant coach Wayne Smith, who knows a thing or two about embracing constant pressure as a former All Blacks head coach and part of the Henry setup for eight years, said that if the champions were afraid of the expectation, they wouldn’t have reached the Super Rugby Final.
Smith told the Waikato Times that every side the Chiefs had come up against had thrown their A-Game at them.
“We've had teams gunning for us,” Smith said,
“Whenever we've played away it's been (their opponents)] biggest game and that's been different for the Chiefs.”
There have been two big parts to the Chiefs game, their ability to enjoy their rugby and the occasion, but more importantly respond when they feel they haven’t performed to standards.
That was the case against the Crusaders, where the Chiefs openly admitted they had a big point to prove.
“Last week was very much ‘enjoy it, enjoy each other, welcome the challenge and show our character because we didn't show our character when we played in Christchurch and we were embarrassed by that,” he said.
“It wasn't so much about outcome but let's be proud of ourselves and show that we deserve to be where we are (to) put a performance in we could be proud of.
"Show our heart, show our character, show what we're about and that's what we got."