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‘Have to step up’: Chiefs flyer Shaun Stevenson predicted playoffs destiny

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

From the opening whistle of the season, the Chiefs have been the form team of Super Rugby Pacific. Searching for their first title since 2013, they’re deserving of the ‘favourites’ tag ahead of Saturday’s decider.

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Destiny awaits the Chiefs.

But a hungry giant of the competition, who is eager to avenge a series of gut-wrenching defeats, is lurking in the shadows.

It’s quite rare that the champion Crusaders are beaten twice in a season by one team, let alone three times. But the Chiefs have an incredible opportunity to inflict the historic feat upon their New Zealand rivals.

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When the Chiefs shocked the rugby world with an emphatic 31-10 win over the champion Crusaders in Christchurch to start the season, it left fans wanting more.

The countdown to the next meeting between the two New Zealand heavyweights began as the fulltime whistle sounded at Orangetheory Stadium – and the ‘rematch’ didn’t disappoint.

Playing in front of their home fans at FMG Stadium, the Chiefs held on for a valiant 10-point win over the defending champions in late April.

The Chiefs have well and truly established themselves as the team to beat heading into the business end of the competition, in fact they appeared unbeatable.

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But the Crusaders would surely pose a completely different threat in the playoffs – they’ve shown that over the last six seasons.

If the Chiefs were to end the Crusaders’ reign of dominance in Super Rugby, then they’d likely need to beat the title holders en route to glory.

It’s the clash that rugby fans wanted and Chiefs players expected.

Ahead of the Chiefs’ regular season clash with the Queensland Reds, fullback Shaun Stevenson told RugbyPass that his side would “probably” play the Crusaders during the playoffs.

“The boys are stoked to get two wins over them but we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” Stevenson told RugbyPass in May. “We probably will meet them again sometime in the finals.

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“We’ll just have to step up again.”

Chiefs flyer Shaun Stevenson has played a key role in their outstanding season so far.

Stevenson has showcased an elite standard of skill, execution and patient during a career-best season.

But, just as it is with any great player, it’s his ability to seemingly predict what’s about to happen that separates him from the rest.

Incredibly, it seems that Stevenson’s rugby IQ goes beyond the field of play.

Having predicted the Chiefs’ decisive playoff clash with the defending champions, it seems that Stevenson really can do it all in a rugby sense.

Stevenson has been a try-scoring machine for the Chiefs this season, and was included in the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship squad as injury cover for winger Mark Telea.

“I guess it’s just (about) popping up in the right spots in the right time and trying to put myself in good positions where I can score,” he added.

“These days it’s not all about scoring tries and what not, you want your team to play well and obviously if me scoring tries is going to get the win then I’m happy to keep doing that.

“It’s just one of those things where it’s just (about) being in the right place at the right time and there’s obviously other boys in the team that are scoring good tries as well.

“It’s a team effort. I’m the one that might be putting the ball down but there’s plenty of boys that are doing the hard (yards) for me.

“It’s just a good team performance whenever someone scores a try.”

The Chiefs host the Crusaders at Hamilton’s FMG Stadium in the Super Rugby Pacific decider on Saturday at 5.05pm NZST.

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Comments

1 Comment
J
Jmann 401 days ago

Just please, please keep that fool Nick Berry as far away from the game as possible.

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