Super Rugby Aotearoa: Chiefs claiming underdog status as final spot nears

The Chiefs are happy to maintain the underdog tag as they close in on a spot in the Super Rugby Aotearoa final.

A bonus-point win against the Hurricanes on Friday and a Blues loss on Sunday will seal their place in the inaugural final.

This would complete a remarkable turn around in form that had them steering down unwanted Super Rugby history a month ago but they aren't satisfied yet.

The Hamilton side are still learning and they're adamant there is more to come as a spot in the final gets closer.

"It's only five or six weeks ago we were on an 11 game losing streak and it's a lot different now," Chiefs midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown says. "Now it's a good feeling and it's amazing what winning can do to an environment."

The winning feeling is a good one and it's become a habit for the Chiefs in recent weeks.
They've won their last four on the bounce including tipping up four-time defending champions the Crusaders last week.

The Chiefs have narrowed their focus on themselves as they prepare for the Hurricanes, which is seen as key piece of the puzzle.

"Sometimes if you're not getting the results you want you start doubting what you're doing," Chiefs assistant coach Neil Barnes says. "All I'll say is they're starting to believe in themselves and they're becoming a lot more dangerous when they actually know they're better than their opponent."

With Warren Gatland over in Europe to coach the British and Irish Lions side against South Africa this year, assistant coach Clayton McMillan has taken the reins.

He has put a major focus on culture this season, which the players have bought in to and the results speak for themselves.

"Culture is built on actions," Barnes says. "You can talk it up in a room of who you and how you think are, but it's how you behave."

The Chiefs have certainly walked the walk this season and it was their round four win over the Hurricanes that started the winning streak.

They've swapped places with them on the ladder this year with the 'Canes now struggling for wins, but they have nothing to lose and that makes them dangerous.

"They're a brutal team and last game showed just how good they are," Lachlan Boshier says. "We are not taking them lightly whatsoever and we'll be ready for what they bring at us."

The Hamilton side may be on a winning streak but they're staying grounded.

"We are still the underdogs," Lienert-Brown says.

It's proved a successful approach so far.

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