Super Rugby

Chiefs embracing underdogs tag



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Hamilton Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs are embracing their unfamiliar underdog tag ahead of their Super Rugby Semi-final against the Hurricanes in Wellington.

The Chiefs led the Super Rugby standings for much of the season but will be the lowest ranked side in the weekend’s two Semi-finals.

The Hurricanes finished the season on top of the standings and have been heavily tipped to win the title as they will have home advantage in the final if they get past this weekend.

The benefit of being the title favourites also comes with added pressure and in comparison the Chiefs almost have nothing to lose.

The Hurricanes went through the season in 2015 as the tournament leaders but were unable to finish it off and were beaten in the final by the Highlanders. The Wellington side have never won a Super Rugby title and there is a growing feeling that if they don’t win it this year they might never win it.

The Hurricanes have been at home in New Zealand for the last three weeks and won’t have to fly anywhere if they beat the Chiefs on Saturday.

The Chiefs on the other hand have had to fly from Cape Town to play this week’s match in Wellington and have not played a match in New Zealand since the middle of May.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is happy for his two time winners to keep flying under the radar.

“Oh absolutely, it’s good,” he told Stuff.

“There’s no doubt they’re the form side in the competition. They’ve been incredibly consistent and had pretty tough opponents over the last five or so games.”

The trip back from South Africa after the stunning slaying of the Stormers has meant a lighter week for the Chiefs, which has guarded them against over-thinking their assignment too much.

“It’s easy to get sucked into trying to do too much in these weeks because you think the game’s more important,” Rennie said. “Sometimes less is more. We’ve had a whole year of training.”

One worrying stat for Hurricanes fans is that they have lost all six of their play off matches against New Zealand teams and Rennie is happy that his team are more conditioned for play off rugby against New Zealand sides.

“Of course playoff footy goes to another level, there’s a little bit more on it,” Rennie said.

“So we understand that, but we’ve seen our boys dig deep on countless times this year. We’ve done a bit of travel and there’s been a bit of adversity and they’ve fronted really well.

“You’ve got to enjoy this time of year. We’re pretty stoked to be part of it. The last couple of seasons we fell at the quarterfinal hurdle, so it’s good to be still in the race. ”

“And honestly, this is what you’re involved in footy for, for these sort of games. And it should be a hell of a fixture.

“It’s on the day that counts isn’t it. Hopefully we can do enough.”

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