Chiefs aiming for consecutive wins over Crusaders

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They know that to be the best, they have to beat the best. One-up over the Crusaders for the season after their 24-21 last-minute win in Christchurch, they are prepared for the Crusaders' response.


Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan said: "I think it is important for us to demonstrate that our first win down there in a number of years wasn't a fluke.


"We know they are going to come up here, irrespective of who they put out on the field or what sort of preparation they've had, wanting to reverse the tables.


"It's going to be a massive challenge, and one we are keen to embrace. We know what's coming, so no surprises there," he said.


"The challenge for us is to keep building on the performances we've had over the last few weeks and, if we do that, we give ourselves a good chance, particularly at home."


McMillan said the Crusaders would be aware the Chiefs were an improving side.


"We've got depth, so when we get injuries and players affected by Covid, we are getting better at dealing with that. Having to come up here off the back of a disrupted week, travel, having to play a team on a bit of a high will present some challenges for them.


"It goes both ways, but we're under no illusions they're going to come up here to try and upset the party," he said.


All Black Tupou Vaa'i was getting better with each run on the blindside flank, but McMillan said he was still playing there out of necessity due to injuries to others. He wasn't aware of specific interest from the All Blacks selectors in his changed role.


"I imagine that the way Toops has been playing over the last few weeks, particularly playing out of his traditional position, will be of interest. When you start thinking about the Rugby World Cup coming up, you know that versatility in a reduced squad has its benefits. I don't think it is harming his chances," he said.


McMillan said Bryn Gatland had stepped up well at first five-eighths.


"He probably had his best day at the office in the Chiefs jersey the last time we played the Crusaders a couple of weeks ago, and you could see in his performance against Moana Pasifika that he took a lot of confidence out of that fixture. He's been rewarded with another start because he's earned it.


"We've always maintained he's a hell of a good player, he's just had to battle other good players to get a regular start," he said.


They would miss No8 Pita Gus Sowakula, who has been enjoying a good season, but McMillan said having played some of the most minutes in the side, he had the chance to rest.


Samipeni Finau will play instead and was a similar player to Sowakula.


"He's a big man, great at set-piece, a good lineout man, adds a bit of weight in the scrum but is pretty destructive with his ball carry," he said.


Finau could replicate Sowakula's play and had his opportunity to show that.


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