A Super Rugby title will help Chiefs star Anton Lienert-Brown prove that his risky move away from Christchurch has paid off.
The former Christchurch Boys High School star can't wait to take on the Crusaders, a team he idolised growing up, when the two clash in this year’s final in his old hometown this weekend.
Lienert-Brown could very well have been donning a red jersey this Saturday had it not been for former All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith, who flew down to Crusaders country nine years ago to see the young midfielder in action.
“I did dream of being a Crusader,” Lienert-Brown told 1 NEWS.
“But I got an opportunity up here at the Chiefs and I wouldn't change it for the world.”
Smith went to watch Lienert-Brown play second-five that day, but someone else also caught his eye that day.
Thus, the former Chiefs assistant ended up signing both Lienert-Brown and fellow All Black Damian McKenzie, who have now led the Chiefs into their first final since Smith's departure.
“I took a risk moving up here but it's worked out and I love this team,” Lienert-Brown said.
Christchurch-born Lienert-Brown was in the Canterury academy with another All Black, Richie Mo'unga, and admitted at the time it was rare to see Canterbury kids move away from the 10-time champion Crusaders.
The red-and-blacks even tried to bring Lienert-Brown back in 2017, but his loyalty to Waikato has never waivered since that fateful decision in 2012.
“I could've been in this team and never made a final and I still would've loved it.”
With a final on the horizon, though, he’s got a chance to add another reason to love his long-time club.