“We’re going to come out fizzing” - McMillan

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The Crusaders had a formidable record that had to be respected but, coach Clayton McMillan said that with a win over the Crusaders and a good performance in their first-round game in Christchurch, the Chiefs had given themselves a chance.

They were under no pressure because they had already exceeded many people's expectations.

"The only thing that will let us down is if we don't front and give the best and we go into our shell but the way that the boys have trained I doubt that is going to happen," he said.

"We're going to come out fizzing. They know that and they've referred to as us scrappers and we'll turn up as brawlers," he said.

In his final team, he backed his challenge for less experienced members of the side against the Blues last week to push for a place in the side. Loose forward Pita Gus Sowakula took his chance and will play on the blindside flank due to the return of Luke Jacobson at No8.

"Pita Gus is one of those guys who I thought was outstanding last week, so he really forced our hand.

"We know that the locking combination has served us really well. The decision, to be perfectly honest, was made a little bit easier because Naitoa's [Ah Kuoi] been out with concussion the last couple of weeks, and he's only just passed that on Tuesday, so it was pretty straight forward," he said of the choice to play Mitchell Brown at lock and to place Sowakula on the blindside flank.

The decision to leave Damian McKenzie at fullback rather than reprising his role from the earlier Crusaders game at first five-eighths was because both sides were playing slightly differently since that encounter.

"There're pros and cons. He's going to do a great job wherever we put him, he's proved that," he said.

Bryn Gatland was preferred to Kaleb Trask at first five-eighths.

"We're anticipating down in Christchurch it's a little bit more in the winter months now, it'll be dewy, it'll be cold, potential for rain, so the tactical battle, I think, is going to be really important. So, having both Bryn and Damo there, I think, serves us well in that regard."

McMillan said he was prepared for the Crusaders to kick more than they have earlier.

"We saw them sort of transition to that against the Blues [in their last game], and Damo's by far and away the best man under the ball, really composed and brave, so there's a little bit of that in the selection as well," he said.

Chiefs veteran Liam Messam was denied a place in the final 23 due to Zane Kapeli's effort against the Blues last weekend.

"He covered lock for 60 minutes, so he can potentially can do that again this week, and I guess you always want to prepare for those sort[s] of situations," he said.

Another consideration was that Messam had only played 25 minutes all season which meant playing in the final would have been a big ask.