Last season's winless record would not be on the Chiefs' minds, co-captain Sam Cane said. They were just looking forward to playing again.
There was no point in putting any energy or thought into last year or the two late-game losses they had against the Highlanders, he said. Their focus was purely on what they could do on Friday.
There had been a long time since last year, they had a new coach on board and they were excited to kick-off their season after having to sit back and watch the first round, Cane said
While he wasn't as nervous as he was before playing earlier in his career, Cane said the pride and excitement playing for the Chiefs region was as meaningful as it had always been.
Cane said his new loose forward partner Samipeni Finau had been with the side as injury cover during the last two seasons. But if he was asked who had impressed him most it would have been Finau.
"To see him get his shot is awesome for him," he said.
Watching the Highlanders in action against the Crusaders, Cane said, he thought their lineout drives had looked good, but the effort the Crusaders had put in to turn them back had been impressive.
The Crusaders were tough to break but it was clear the Highlanders had put some work in during the pre-season on the ploy, but there were also signs of typical Tony Brown touches of doing the unexpected.
"The boys have got to be on their toes, you can't switch off for any moment or they could seize that," he said.
Cane said the Highlanders' choice of his All Blacks teammate halfback Aaron Smith to come off the bench was designed to look after him, even while he was firing on all cylinders.
"I'm sure he could have played big minutes again, but they've also got a guy in Folau Fakatava who is pretty exciting and he's come on massively in the last few years. He's done his apprenticeship. They brought him on with about 25 minutes to go last week and he made an impact.
"Like any good team, if you've got a two-punch combo in one of those key positions you can use it to real effect," he said.