Super Rugby Pacific: Chiefs determined to avoid complacency against 'dangerous' Highlanders

They're up against a team that's on a 17-game losing streak to New Zealand opposition but the Chiefs are taking no notice of the Highlanders nearly three-year drought in local derbies.

April 2021 was the last time the southerners beat a fellow Kiwi side and the Chiefs aren't interested in being the team that gets tipped up. 

Coach Clayton McMillan was a quiet observer at Chiefs training on Thursday but had a clear message for his team leading into Saturday's match at FMG Stadium.

"Complacency is not something that will creep into our environment," McMillan told Newshub. 

Quinn Tupaea in action at Chiefs training.
Quinn Tupaea in action at Chiefs training. Photo credit: Getty Images

It's easy to see why it might.

The Highlanders are winless in their past 17 encounters against NZ teams, while the Chiefs remain one of the form outfits in the competition.

But McMillan feels the Highlanders struggles don't paint an accurate picture.

"They're a young group," he added.

"They've had some challenges, but it looks like they've learned and come back hungry and they're dangerous." 

The Highlanders have been there or thereabouts so far this year but their ability to put the nail in Kiwi derbies has been a glaring omission in recent seasons.

But putting themselves in games has been one thing, closing those games out is quite another, and the Highlanders have struggled to do that.

Coach Clarke Dermody believes his team's drought has become a mental obstacle.

"The challenge for our guys is to believe we're good enough from the start," said Dermody. 

The Chiefs certainly believe they are.

"We're under no illusions around their mindset coming up here and we've had a good week ourselves, so we'll be ready," McMillan said. 

Join Newshub at 4:35pm Saturday for live updates of the Highlanders v Chiefs Super Rugby Pacific clash.