Chiefs inspired by 2012-13 champion side

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He said ahead of Friday's Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa game with the Highlanders in Hamilton that he wanted to ensure alignment between everyone in the organisation, on and off-the-field to those features under the Dave Rennie-coached sides.

 

With all the changes in players and personnel, there had been a quest to make sure everyone understood their identity and what the Chiefs stood for.

 

"What does success look like, on and off the field and what do we need to do each day to help bring that to fruition," he said.

 

McMillan said they had a lot of fit players to start the season, the result of good pre-season work and one of the disappointments of being a coach was having to let players down by not selecting them, every week when they had done nothing wrong.

 

"They probably deserve selection but they are just sitting in behind some who are just slightly ahead so it's not an easy decision but we're really happy with the squad we've selected," he said.

 

He said he saw Damian McKenzie as a first five-eighths option but there were others they saw as starting five-eighths. The question they had to ask themselves each week was whether they had space for two starting first five-eighths and a fullback who could also play the position their match-day mix.

 

The Highlanders had confidence in their maul that wouldn't have been dented too much in their first game, against the Crusaders, who were probably the best in the business [defensively] at that end of the field.

"We haven't spent too much time defending the maul, our challenge is to be at the other end of the field so they have to worry more about us," he said.

 

Co-captains provided something of interest when it came to the captain's challenge but he felt it would be up to the referees whom they would have most dialogue with.

 

While his desired option would have been to play last weekend, because everyone was so keen to get involved, there were some advantages in sitting back and watching other sides. It provided a feel of what other teams were attempting, he said.

 

Blindside flanker Samipeni Finau was still an injury cover player for the side but he had been doing things well in pre-season and there was a chance for him to seal an involvement with the side in the future.

 

"He's a big guy, and he's explosive. His ability to carry and get gain-line has been really impressive and defensively he has got a lot of hurt in in his intentions and we feel with Sam [Cane] and Luke [Jacobson] playing at flanker and No8 that gives us a really good balance in the loose forward trio," he said.

 

He said the choice of Xavier Roe as halfback on the bench was the result of Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi picking up a niggle and not being able to play in the game of three halves, and Roe had been given the chance this week.

 

McMillan said he rated Jacobson in the No8 position. He had the skills sets and his ability to get his hands on the ball more often meant he could have a lot more influence in the position.

 

It was also a result of Pita Gus Sowakula having some injury niggles and unable to start for the next few weeks.

 

"It gives him a chance to have some experience in that position," he said.

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