The Chiefs say revenge and the chance to land a mental blow against the Hurricanes are both driving forces ahead of their final-round Super Rugby game in New Plymouth.
Hooker Hika Elliot revealed the controversial 22-18 loss to the competition leaders in Wellington a month ago continues to sting.
The Chiefs were denied what would have been a match-winning try to halfback Augustine Pulu in the dying minutes when the TMO identified an infringement at the previous ruck – a ruling the visitors contested strongly.
That will be in the back of their minds on Saturday, although Elliot says his fifth-placed side can’t afford to be too hung up about it.
“We felt we won that game, bar a couple of calls,” Elliot told NZ Newswire.
“But what’s done is done. Now, it’s a prime opportunity to get some psychological advantages heading into finals footy. They’ve been the most consistent team this year so we’ve got a big game ahead of us.”
Regardless of the result, the Chiefs are guaranteed to finish somewhere from fourth to sixth, with a trip to Wellington to face the top-qualifying Hurricanes possible in the semi-finals or final.
The Chiefs’ injury clouds are clearing, with several players injected into the side who were flattered by a 24-3 win over the Queensland Reds.
All Blacks midfield back Sonny Bill Williams will play his first game in six weeks after overcoming a back complaint while electric winger James Lowe is bracketed to return and prop Ben Tameifuna has overcome a back complaint.
The return of the burly Tameifuna is significant, with Elliot admitting the Chiefs’ scrum and lineout were both inadequate in Brisbane. He says staunch defence and the ability to capitalise on limited chances are needed to overcome the Reds.
“They say defence wins championships so, in terms of that, I think we’re in the right place,” he said.
“But our set-piece didn’t function, which we’ll have to fix heading into finals footy.
“There are a few individuals who have taken responsibility. The biggest disappointment is that our set-piece work has been right up there this year.”