Chopping down the best athletes in Super Rugby will be the key to toppling the Hurricanes in next week’s succulent Super Rugby semi-final in Wellington.
That’s the attitude of the two-time champion Chiefs, who joined their opponents in thumping a hapless South African side in the quarter-finals.
The top-seeded Hurricanes whitewashed the Sharks 41-0 and will enjoy home advantage again.
They don’t face a second week of draining trans-Indian Ocean travel like the sixth-seeded Chiefs, who overwhelmed the Stormers 60-21 in Cape Town on Saturday (Sunday AEST) and will face a third game on the road if they reach the final.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is downplaying the travel factor, saying it didn’t enter his players’ psyches in Cape Town and he doesn’t expect it to over the coming week.
The priority will instead be countering a Hurricanes side who he says are leading the way in terms of strike power.
“Their ability to keep the ball alive, all of their back five in their forwards are dangerous ball carriers,” Rennie said.
“They’ve got a hell of a lot of firepower so the key to beating them is to suppress a little bit of that. That’s a big challenge.”
Injury rehabilitation will play a major part for both teams.
Hurricanes captain and All Blacks hooker Dane Coles is in doubt after taking a painful blow to the ribs.
The Chiefs lost inside centre Stephen Donald (shoulder) and co-captain Sam Cane (head knock) during the Stormers win and couldn’t say how serious either injury is.
Donald’s absence could be countered by a likely return to fitness of two-Test All Blacks centre Seta Tamanivalu, who missed the quarter-final with a knee injury.
All Blacks flanker Cane will undergo concussion tests, with results not likely to be known until after the team arrive in New Zealand on Tuesday morning.
Michael Leitch has been out for two months with a dislocated thumb but the No.8 could be ready to play.
If both Cane and Leitch are ruled out, Rennie will consider making another appeal to SANZAAR for dispensation to field All Blacks flanker Liam Messam, who was deemed ineligible for the quarter-final after playing just two games this season.