There's some symmetry in the chance because Gatland played for the Highlanders last season and it was his last-minute dropped goal that denied the Chiefs a win in one of their two games last year.
Gatland said that success hadn't been something that had been spoken about among the Chiefs leading into this year's game but there had been some banter from the south, and he was happy with that.
"I'm excited to be back home with a chance to pull on these colours in the Chiefs jersey. They're a team I've always wanted to play for so that's exciting for me. To play against my old team adds a bit extra," he said.
Gatland said he had been in touch with his father Warren to let him know he would be making his debut and he had been delighted. Gatland senior is on a year's leave from his head coach role with the side while preparing for the British & Irish Lions series with South Africa.
While he had been involved with two other Super Rugby sides [Blues, Highlanders], Gatland said the Chiefs were where he wanted to be. Sometimes it was necessary to go where the opportunities were but he had signed for three years and was looking to make the most of it.
"I feel like maybe the stars have aligned and if that's the case then great, and if not I will keep working hard. I'm lucky I've got the nod for the first week, so I'll put my best foot forward on the weekend and hopefully keep going from there," he said.
Coming into the side and aware of the role of a five-eighths in being a decision-maker he said it was a fine balance between finding your feet and earning the respect of players around you. He took things quietly during the long pre-season and let his approach develop naturally as time went by.
"That's the way I found my feet and as we got into pre-season games I just tried to step it up to another level. That's something I want to keep growing," he said.