Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan believes his side have shown they can compete with the best teams in Super Rugby Aotearoa, after snapping an 11-match losing streak.
Inspired by Damian McKenzie, the Chiefs staged a brilliant comeback to beat the Hurricanes 35-29 in the capital on Saturday to give McMillan his first win, after taking over from Warren Gatland for the season.
Gatland oversaw a winless inaugural season in the domestic competition last year, before heading back to Europe on a pre-agreed sabbatical to prepare for his second stint as British & Irish Lions coach.
"Yeah, probably more relief than anything," McMillan says, after ending the equal longest losing streak for an NZ Super Rugby team.
"It didn't look pretty for a while there, but I'm pretty proud of the fellas for gutsing it out and showcasing what they can actually do, when we get a bit of front-foot ball."
McMillan had particular praise for fleet-footed fullback McKenzie, who moved into playmaker role in the second half and was pivotal in the fight back from a 26-7 halftime deficit.
"He's just a quality player," McMillan adds. "From the outside looking in, you know he's always been a quality player for the Chiefs and the All Blacks, but it's taken me to go into the environment to see how electric he is at training.
"He's a dynamo and can create a lot out of nothing."
Next up for the Chiefs is a match against the Blues, who are unbeaten this season, heading into their clash with the Crusaders later on Sunday.
"They're a quality side, but we've got the monkey off our back," McMillan says. "We've shown we can stress the best teams, if we are consistent and accurate for longer.
"We get to play at home and we'll be dangerous. We've got to get our preparation right, recover well, celebrate well and just keep building the belief in the boys."
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