Super Rugby Final 2013: Winners Chiefs are up there with the best
Last Updated: 03/08/13 1:13pm
Sean Fitzpatrick told Sky Sports that two-time Super Rugby champions the Chiefs are one of the best sides in the competition's history.
The New Zealand outfit won the Southern Hemisphere tournament for the second successive season on Saturday - becoming only the fourth side to achieve the feat - by beating Australian troop the Brumbies 27-22 in a thrilling encounter at the Waikato Stadium.
And former Kiwi hooker Fitzpatrick says the Chiefs' understated style and ability to produce when it matters sets them apart from the norm - and he is refusing to rule out their chances of securing three titles on the bounce.
"What the Chiefs have achieved is outstanding," said Fitzpatrick, who won 92 caps for New Zealand between 1986-97. "They are not flashy but what I like about them is that they deliver and I think they are up there with the best.
"Next year is only going to be more exciting as a lot of the players are leaving and they are going to have to find someone new, but the culture of the organisation is phenomenal and they could do three in row."
The Chiefs, who dispatched South African side the Sharks in last year's showpiece, trailed 16-9 to the Brumbies at the half-time interval, but tries from Liam Messam and Robbie Robinson and the deadly-accurate boot of Aaron Cruden saw the New Zealanders prevail.
"The Chiefs are not flashy but what I like about them is that they deliver."
Fitzpatrick paid tribute to Jake White's beaten Brumbies but says Dave Rennie's men were just too canny and had too much power within their squad to be toppled by the Canberra-based franchise.
"It thought it was a fantastic game," he added. "The intensity was phenomenal and the Chiefs had to show great character to [overcome] a Brumbies side that threw everything at them.
"They really play for each other, make the right decisions at the right times and I thought that in the second half they showed the depth they have got.
"They have had lots of injuries but [Augustine] Pulu came on and played very well at half-back, while the try Robinson scored was quite outstanding.
"The players have huge brain power and execute the game-plans of [coaches] Rennie and Wayne Smith on the field, while they are very relaxed and together off the field."
A host of Southern Hemisphere luminaries will be in action at the 2013 Rugby Championship, which begins on Saturday, August 17 on Sky Sports. Click here to watch our preview video.