Jamie Joseph heaped praise on his pack after the Highlanders stunned the Waratahs to reach the Super Rugby final.
The team from Dunedin set up an all-Kiwi final against the Hurricanes in Wellington with a fine all-round display in the semi-final.
After a tight first half, they ran away with it in the second 40, eventually running 35-17 winners against last year's champions, running in five tries to one.
And despite fielding a pack without an international cap, up against a Waratahs set of forwards packed with Test experience, Joseph felt it was up front that the game was won.
"They aren't All Blacks, they aren't Wallabies, they aren't Springboks but they are very good rugby players," Joseph told reporters.
"And I guess you can see that we've created a very good team. Yeah, we've got a very good backline but I think in the last three or four games the pack's really stood up and at crucial times of the season they've done that.
"It still surprises me, in many ways it seems that we've fooled the rugby community, they still don't quite believe in us, what else can these guys do?" he added.
"But the Hurricanes are stacked with All Blacks, they're in form, they've only lost a couple of games. It's a big task and we've got to play it up there as well. It's as big a task as this one was tonight."