Super Rugby Pacific: Chiefs, unbeaten Hurricanes braced for litmus-test encounter at Wellington

Two Super Rugby Pacific heavyweights are bracing for their first true litmus test of the season, when they face off in the capital this weekend.

The Hurricanes and Chiefs are two of the frontrunners to go all the way this season, and with Clark Laidlaw's side fresh off a bye and yet to drop a game so far, the Chiefs have been kept on their toes.

Fresh off a demolition of Moana Pasifika, Chiefs training may have an extra edge this week, but coach Clayton McMillan is all too aware they're about to get a true measure of their progress.

The match-up between Anton Lienert-Brown and Jordie Barrett will go a long way to deciding the contest.
The match-up between Anton Lienert-Brown and Jordie Barrett will go a long way to deciding the contest. Photo credit: Getty Images

"It's a great opportunity to test ourselves against the frontrunners in the competition," he said. "I make no bones about that and whatever comes out of that will hopefully have us in good stead for the backend of the season."

The feeling is mutual. Although the Hurricanes have not dropped a game so far, Laidlaw feels the Chiefs will show just how much progress has been made in the capital.

"It's a crucial part of the season, not just with the games we've got, but you get through these next four games and you know roughly we're you're sitting with four games to go," he said.

Crucial to the Chiefs hopes of toppling the 'Canes will be containing Jordie Barrett. The Hurricanes second-five is a key pillar in their attack, but McMillan is wary of narrowing their focus solely on him.

"There's lots of threats in the park, so if you put all your focus on one guy, you're probably going to get exposed somewhere else."

All Blacks teammate Anton Lienert-Brown is tasked with that this week, but that's a challenge he thrives on.

"I'm actually excited to go down there and play against him, even though we're good mates," he said. "I guess I just love competing and I can't wait."

McMillan is just as eager for a crack at the only unbeaten team remaining.

"It'll be a real stiff test down in Wellington," he said.

The Chiefs hope they can lay down a marker to the rest of the competition.

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