Super Rugby 2019: Chiefs eye up Crusaders in quarter-finals

Everyone wants to see a Crusaders v Chiefs rematch in the Super Rugby playoffs - including Chiefs coach Colin Cooper, as it transpires.

But maybe not so much the Crusaders.

The Waikato-based side clinched their top-eight spot in the post-season with a big 59-8 road win over the Rebels on Friday night, building on a late run of form that included a massive defensive effort against the Reds and a stunning upset of the Crusaders in Suva.

Where they finish and who they face next week is yet to be determined, but Cooper is no longer daunted by finishing eighth and facing the top-of-the-table defending champions in Christchurch.

The other quarter-final option would likely be the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

"We'd prefer to go to Christchurch," says Cooper. "If you're going to win it, you have to beat the Crusaders in Christchurch.

"I think we'll go there or we'll go to Buenos Aires - and we'd prefer to go to Christchurch."

The Chiefs were scheduled to return from Melbourne on Saturday and would fly to Argentina on Sunday, if required.

If they beat the Jaguares, they would face a semi in either Canberra or South Africa, before a projected final against the Crusaders.

So why not just knock the titleholders off first and then travel? They may even draw the Hurricanes in the semis.

"I think if you're going to travel and then play the Crusaders, you're better to play the Crusaders without the extra travel, so there's a bit of that," says Cooper.

But after rallying from 20 points down to pip their rivals in Suva, the Chiefs are also riding a wave of confidence that they can compete with anyone.

"The guys are in pretty good form, and we're really prepared and ready to go to Christchurch," says Cooper.

"I think beating the Crusaders in Suva, the defensive effort against the Reds…  that's given the team a lot of self-belief."

Cooper describes the runaway win over the Rebels as the first time he's been able to relax, after several weeks of must-win encounters.

"Every other game, we've been fighting to stay in it or win it," he says. "Even the Crusaders win, we were really going hard for the bonus point, but in this game, we were able to bring off our big guys.

"It was a very proud moment."


Join us for live updates of the NZ Super Rugby playoff games