Chiefs looking to create their own legacy

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The Chiefs were minor premiership winners of the competition and earned the right to a home final. Still, the Crusaders will seek a fifth consecutive title (not counting regional titles) to mark the end of a significant era in Super Rugby.

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan acknowledged the Crusaders' legacy, especially under departing coach Scott Robertson, and said the visitors would take confidence from that. But it wasn't something the Chiefs feared.

"We think we've got a chance to make a legacy for ourselves."

McMillan said he wasn't concerned with the prospect of rain during the final; they had been used to it over the past month.

He was also confident they had built their week of preparation well. They had been involved in finals in recent seasons and had developed a system that meant they were not playing the game too early in the week.

"There's plenty of excitement around but we're keeping a lid on that."

The defence would play a big part in the game's outcome, especially in potentially wet conditions.

"Finals traditionally are tight affairs. That's what we are anticipating at the weekend. It's going to be tight. It's going to go down to the wire and the best defensive team wins."

McMillan felt the team reached the final because of shared experiences for the players and coaching team over the last few years.

They were going into a home final after coming up against teams in the last two weeks who had much to gain and nothing to lose. The Chiefs had responded to those challenges and were now excited about Saturday's game.

"The way the Crusaders took to the Blues last week did us a lot of favours. They played extremely well and raised the awareness of what's coming. Not that we needed any convincing, we know they can perform on the big stage."

But it was the Chiefs' stage, and they needed to make the most of that, he said.

"It's not a pleasant experience going to Christchurch in the middle of winter and being on the end of their parochialism. But I've also experienced what it's like here.

"When the cowbells are ringing, and 25,000 are vocal getting in behind the team, we'll need them to be in our colours, loud and proud, making sure the opposition understands they're a long way from home.

"The cowbells won't be the difference, but they'll make a difference."

Captain Sam Cane said the outcome would come down to a couple of big moments, and a moment might be as small as a missed clean-out or running a good support line.

"We've just got to back ourselves to be good enough in those moments and back guys to trust themselves and to pull trigger when it's on."

Cane felt their experiences of playing through tight finishes in the two earlier playoff games would be a help, especially when backed by the support of home fans.

McMillan said the reason for giving Pita Gus Sowakula the start on the blindside flank ahead of new All Blacks squad member Samipeni Finau was down to Sowakula's form and experience while also recognizing the service he had given the team during his time with them.

Finau would bring plenty of energy from the bench, he said.

While there would be some emotion around the departing players, Sowakula, Brodie Retallick and Brad Weber and others, and Cane's 150th game, that was not something they had discussed during the week, all the players wanted the attention to be on the team and the final. The final will also mark Damian McKenzie’s 200th First Class game.

DHL Super Rugby Pacific Final: Chiefs v Crusaders, Saturday 24 June, 7.05pm, FMG Stadium Waikato.


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