Chiefs ready for Cheetahs backlash

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Friday, April 14, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

But the Chiefs were also wary of the likely mood of the Cheetahs, according to assistant coach Andrew Strawbridge.

With the Cheetahs being mentioned as one of the sides who could be dropped from the competition, Strawbridge said the Chiefs management had asked their players how they would feel if they were in a similar situation and there had been a clear realisation of the mood the Cheetahs would bring to the game.

"They will have seen what the Stormers were able to do to us around the edges of the rucks and some of the yardage there were able to get there and they will see that as a glimmer of hope as well," he said.

Strawbridge said selection changes were made with a view to not only freshening the side but to also speed their game up. Brayden Mitchell would have his first start at hooker, after concussion in a pre-season game prevented him having an earlier chance.

Regular Hika Elliot had played a lot of rugby during the first part of the campaign and his body was reflecting that while Mitchell was training very well.

It was a similar situation with Taleni Seu being named ahead of Dominic Bird to lock the scrum. He had come on in Cape Town and added some 'real impetus' being one of the few forwards to make an impact with his carries to get the side over the advantage line.

"We know what impact Sam [Cane] has for us, he's a talisman for us, plus he's our captain, so you play your captain when you can. He's had a little bit of time off and he's looking really sharp at training and fronting the team really well, he's sending good messages and we're looking for a big change of mindset this weekend," he said.

Mitchell Brown had been preferred at blindside flank to Liam Messam. Brown had made good impact from the bench in Cape Town and his cleanout in particular had been effective when the Chiefs were carrying the ball.

The management hadn't settled on their preferred XV yet and Brown was making the most of his chances to push his case for the No.6 jersey, Strawbridge said.

"We were caught on the backfoot a little last week and we need to be a bit more aggressive. It was one of those nights, I thought the Stormers played really well. I think we were a tad off our game, we turned the ball over 16 times and we ended up having to make 95 extra tackles because of those turnovers and it cost us in the end.

"We couldn't afford to give them the ball and have them continually bashing into us so the big message is we need to look after the ball far better than we did," he said.

The Stormers carriers had constantly been getting under the Chiefs tacklers and that was a wake-up call for their defensive approach.

"You can't dominate people unless you get under them so there is a bit of a focus for us this week on that," he said.

There had also been some attention paid to creating some structure out of what he termed some of 'the chaotic parts of the game' when chances were created but not capitalised on.

They want to up the ante against the Cheetahs and this was further demonstrated in the choice of Sam McNichol at centre, with Anton Lienert-Brown at second five-eighths. McNichol had trained a lot at centre over the past two seasons with the side and he was expected to provide valuable impetus this weekend.