Super Rugby Aotearoa: Chiefs looking to make amends after winless 2020 season

The Chiefs are approaching the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa season with a point to prove after a winless campaign last year.

Under Warren Gatland, the Chiefs slumped to eight consecutive losses [nine if you count pre-COVID-19 break] in the inaugural tournament, finishing the season licking their wounds at the bottom of the table.

But 2021 is a fresh start for the Hamilton-based franchise under new coach Clayton McMillan, who is stepping into Gatland's shoes, with the latter absent with the British and Irish Lions.

McMillan's first game in charge takes place on Friday - without fans because of COVID-19 alert level 2 conditions - against the Highlanders, at Hamilton's FMG Stadium.

And one of their star players - All Black midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown - admits the squad is wearing a "chip on their shoulder" after the disappointing campaign of 2020.

"[With] last season in general, there is a little bit of a chip on my shoulder," Lienert-Brown says.

"I'm sure it’s the same for a lot of the boys who were part of this team last year.

"It's not something we want to hide from. 

"We realise last season was disappointing, but this season is a new opportunity.”

"We've got a lot of pride to put back into the jersey. We've been working really hard, we're at a good point, and hopefully, we can do that this Friday."

A bad side of history awaits the Chiefs if they open their campaign with two losses. They would join the 2012-13 Highlanders, who lost 11 straight Super Rugby games, and with the daunting prospect of visiting the Crusaders in Christchurch next week, it's imperative they begin their season style on Friday.

"People will make a lot more of it outside our group," says Chiefs assistant coach David Hill.

“The challenge for us this week is to focus on our preparations and do everything we need to do come Friday night."

Hill confirmed All Black utility back Damian McKenzie will be available for selection after recovering from a minor foot injury last week.