The Chiefs' challenge in Suva tonight was laid bare in Christchurch last week.

Most obviously, it's an unbeaten Crusaders team who were just too strong for the defending champion Hurricanes.

But, no less plainly, it's a set piece that displayed enough dominance that it was fair to wonder whether both packs possessed eight men.

And that performance was not an anomaly. So sound is the platform being laid up front, 36 of the Crusaders' 61 tries this season have started at a lineout (23) or scrum (13), more than any other team.


That figure, combined with footage of the Hurricanes' match, should be enough to make the Chiefs blanch.

Then again, their own pack boasts plenty of All Blacks, and their own efforts at the set piece suggest tonight will be far from one-way traffic.

Even if the Crusaders are welcoming back Sam Whitelock to their second row, Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick is confident in the ability of his unit.

"[The Crusaders lineout] is very sharp across the ground and they've got good speed in the air," he told Radio Sport. "But we're not going to make any adjustments.

"We've been going pretty well defensively at lineout time, so we'll just keep trying to apply pressure, try to read it and react."

Indeed, the Chiefs are averaging a competition-best 2.1 steals a game this season, while succeeding with their own lineout at only a slightly lower rate (90 per cent) than the Crusaders (91 per cent).

As for the scrum, the Chiefs have the superior statistics to date, winning 97 per cent from their own feed compared with their counterparts' 95 per cent. And this week, ahead of their biggest test, the Chiefs have been able to employ the services of a not-so-secret weapon - the All Blacks' scrum guru.

"We've been working well and Mike Cron timed his run to come and help us out," Retallick said. "We've got a great front row there, with Nepo [Laulala] and Kane [Hames]. Those boys have been putting pressure on a lot of opposition packs, so it'll be a great test, going up against the likes of Owen [Franks] and Joe [Moody]."