Andrew Horrell: Chiefs learnt from hammering
Andrew Horrell is Christchurch born and raised so it was no surprise to him when the Chiefs faced a hostile reception there three weeks ago.
But the man who came off the bench in that calamitous New Zealand Conference loss to the Crusaders thinks most of his teammates were unprepared for what hit them that night and it showed.
Since then they've worked on putting right things that went wrong that night.
''Not many of the boys had played down in Christchurch and it's a bit of a different atmosphere down there so it was a bit of a wake-up call for a few of them,'' tonight's starting second five-eighth for the Chiefs said.
''I think we'll learn quite a bit off that game and obviously the Crusaders are [now] playing a bit more of an expansive game so we're trying to rectify it this week and put it on the paddock on Saturday.''
Last year's experience of winning big knockout matches helped, but it was more about sheer hard work in training.
''Yes, we won it last year, but this is a different year.''
When it was pointed out that the Crusaders were being touted as red-hot favourites for tonight's match Horrell was reluctant to say too much.
''Obviously media will speculate and they've got their opinions and we've got ours. We think we can do the business.
''They were pretty confident coming in [for this game] last year too so we'll see how we go,'' Horrell said.
Horrell has plenty of admiration for the man he has pushed to the bench, young Chiefs rookie of the year Bundee Aki, and is determined to perform to his optimum to justify that selection.
''I bring a bit more of a kicking game I suppose and I'll bring what I bring,'' said Horrell, whom coach Dave Rennie said was chosen for his rugby nous and ability to get passes away under pressure.
But the man who played centre for the Chiefs in last year's semifinal and final said he was excited to get the chance to play in another big match.
''This is what you dream of, I suppose, when you're younger. To play against the Crusaders at home in front hopefully of a full crowd. You can't get much better than that.
''We're a great team here and any chance you get to start you want to put your best foot forward. Even for the guys that don't even make the 22 you want to make them proud by doing your best.''
Horrell will combine in an all-new midfield with Charlie Ngatai but it is nothing new for the pair as every possible midfield configuration has been tried in training and games already this season after backline injuries struck.