WELLINGTON: The jubilant Chiefs sense they are on the verge of something special after claiming their breakthrough Super Rugby title with a 37-6 trouncing of the Sharks in Saturday's final.
The team of relative unknowns sidestepped talk of a ''dynasty'' but did credit the culture that has developed in the side, similar to how the Crusaders were described when they claimed seven titles in 11 years.
The Chiefs recovered from a slow start to lead 13-3 at half-time and piled on 24 points in the second half while claiming the try count 4-0.
The victory put them into an elite group of Super Rugby champions joining the Crusaders (seven titles), Bulls (three), Blues (three), ACT Brumbies (two) and Queensland Reds (one).
It also capped a remarkable season for a team that began with a new coach and a handful of name players yet beat the best in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, the world's top three countries.
Coach Dave Rennie, the architect of their rapid development, deflected credit, saying the praise should go to the players.
''I'm really rapt for the boys. They've been a fantastic group to work with and deserve all the success they've got,'' he said.
''The culture has been fantastic. They are a very tight group and enjoy each other's company and they've worked hard for each other.
''We targeted guys we thought would work hard for us and were willing to do a bit of graft, hit rucks and so on. We picked guys who probably weren't as heralded as others.
''But they've really stood up and we've got some great young kids and we've got some established players who went to another level this year and the leadership within the group was fantastic and that made a big difference.''
Former All Blacks coach and tactical specialist Wayne Smith, who turned down a tempting offer to join the England coaching staff to be Rennie's assistant at the Chiefs, won't talk of a dynasty but rated the team as something special.
''The team has played bloody well and with real spirit and character, but there is a lot of water to go under this bridge yet,'' said Smith, who also coached the Crusaders to Super titles in 1997 and 1999.
''As soon as you start thinking of dynasties and things like that, that's when you topple over.''