Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021: Chiefs desperate to halt year-long slide against champion Crusaders

The Chiefs are keeping their spirits high and despite more than a year without a win, there's no air of deflation in Hamilton.

"We've had one bad result, but that doesn't mean we put our heads down," insists All Blacks midfield Anton Lienert-Brown. "We come in Monday, we work hard and we go again."

They haven't been able to put their finger on exactly what's going wrong. They have the talent, with five All Blacks, including captain Sam Cane.

And their lack of Super Rugby Aotearoa results has brought a stark admission from players.

"You talk about mana," says prop Angus Ta'avao. "We want to live up to this jersey and we want to restore back the mana in this jersey to what it should be.

"We'll be doing everything we can to do that."

The internal honesty from the Chiefs has caught the ear of Crusaders coach Scott Robertson.

"They've got a lot of history and they've got a lot of players who have put a lot into that jersey, so I can respect them for saying those words," he says.

But their words will ultimately mean little, if they can't find a way to win - a hurdle that's become just as much a mental barrier, as a physical one.

"Sometimes that is the big difference," admits Ta'avao. "Physically, you can match up, but when it comes down to that mental side of it and you're not quite switched on, and you miss a little moment or you miss a tackle..." 

If they can't get it right against the Crusaders on Saturday, they'll match the Highlanders for the longest losing streak in Super Rugby history, but don't expect the four-time defending champions to intimidate the Chiefs.

"They're the top of the tree, but we don't sit back and give them too much respect from that side of things," says assistant coach Neil Barnes. "We're going down there to play our type of game and if they can survive it, good on them."

The Chiefs have to prove they're capable of more than just talk.

Join us at 7pm Saturday for live updates of the Crusaders v Chiefs Super Rugby Aotearoa clash