Dave Rennie and Aaron Cruden have been one of the most effective player-coach combinations of recent times.

The two have enjoyed success with Manawatu, New Zealand Under-20s and the Chiefs. Their relationship goes back almost a decade, but at the end of this Super Rugby season, they are going to part ways.

Rennie will head to Glasgow and Cruden to Montpelier, but before they say au revoir, both want one last golden season together. They want another Super Rugby title, but more than that, they want to do their bit to restore the reputation of a club they both love and both have done plenty to build.

Last year ended badly for the Chiefs. Horrifically badly with their reputation badly damaged by their end of season celebrations that became so infamous, they hardly need retelling.


Whatever goodwill the Chiefs had from their local fan base, they lost much of it as revelations continued to pour out about their collective behaviour as they tried to drown their sorrows after a semifinal exit at the hands of the Hurricanes.

The club was in crises and Cruden doesn't want to leave with that sour memory so prominent. He would love to write a redeeming chapter which sees the Chiefs deliver perfect form both on and off the park.

"There are a lot of people in this franchise, in this team that work their buts off every day and we are a tight group," says Cruden. "Last year didn't end well for us. We have just had to bind tight, pick up the pieces and try to move forward. That is all we can do.

"Look, it is only two rounds in so it is too early to be thinking about the championship later in the year but that is certainly a goal of ours. We have got to get the process right both on and off the field to make sure we give ourselves an opportunity to be in that conversation later in the year."

Cruden remains a vital cog in the Chiefs wheel and the direction and poise he brings has a massive influence on those around him.

Without making himself the star attraction, he has pulled the strings in the opening two games and ignited the Chiefs' attack game - nudging them into the right places with his boot and mixing up the attacking rhythm with ball in hand.

He is playing with a comfort and composure that reflects he's now clear about his future. Last year there was a bit weighing on his mind - trying to determine whether he should stay in New Zealand or head to France.

It probably didn't affect him, but still, he's happier all the same for knowing his plans and with that certainty, has come an ease of movement and clarity of decision-making.

"Looking back if we had decided to stay in New Zealand then I think I would still be in the same head space," said Cruden. "The burden of that decision being made has been lifted and I can embrace the future now. I can get on with it."

The Chiefs got plenty right against the Blues - a game that was also Cruden's 100th in Super Rugby - to claim a second consecutive victory against a New Zealand side. Those two wins not only place them well on the table, they have injected the side with confidence that their gameplan is on the right track.

Their execution of that plan is also starting to bed down and the biggest evidence of that was their continuity. "I was really happy with the first 60 minutes," Rennie said.

"We played with real intent and our ability to build phases and apply pressure was really good. There was a lot more physicality around the cleanout and our set piece was excellent."