Super Rugby Pacific: Chiefs relieved to face Fijian Drua at home in Hamilton, not Lautoka

The Chiefs hope their early-season slip up against Queensland Reds can be the Super rugby Pacific wake-up call they need, as they look to return to winning ways.

They return home to Hamilton this week, aiming to avoid back-to-back defeats for the first time since 2021 - and they already have one clear advantage against Fijian Drua.

The Chiefs certainly look like they're ready for Fiji, but the driving rain quickly reminds them this is Hamilton, not Lautoka.

Reds celebrate their victory over the Chiefs at Brisbane.
Reds celebrate their victory over the Chiefs at Brisbane. Photo credit: Getty Images

Facing the Drua at home rather than away suits them just fine.

Last week, for the second consecutive season, the Fijians toppled the champion Crusaders in front of their parochial fans at Churchill Park, with visiting coach Rob Penney complaining several of his players were close to hospitalisation in the humid conditions. 

"On one hand, I'd love to go over to Fiji and enjoy their hospitality, but it's a bloody tough place to play," pondered Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan. 

"'Donk' loves going to Fiji and enjoying a few Fiji Bitters, so it's probably good for him not to be there this weekend," warned midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown.

Hamilton may not be an Island paradise, but the Chiefs hope there'll be something to drink to this weekend regardless.

They got a timely wake-up call from the Reds last week, something Lienert-Brown doesn't see as too much of a bad thing.

"You look in the mirror a little bit more," he said. "Early on in the season, it's a bit of a kick up the ass, but we'll work hard to get better."

Despite moments of dominance at Brisbane, the Chiefs showed they're not quite the finished product and McMillan demands improvement.

"It certainly sharpens the axe," he said. "You can probably get away with running similar stuff for 2-3 weeks, but then you need to change the dial."

They'll hope for a quick revival against the Drua who have shown they can be giantkillers. The comforts of home certainly give the Chiefs more reason for optimism, but McMillan is adamant that will count for little.

"They're particularly hard to beat over there, but they've also demonstrated a much-improved performance and mindset when they travel, so a much harder team to break down." 

A little wet-weather rugby could be just the ticket for the Chiefs to avoid back-to-back defeats.

Join Newshub at 7pm Saturday for live updates of the Chiefs v Drua Super Rugby Pacific clash