Chiefs look to improve start in Perth

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Thursday, April 20, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Problems with their starts in recent games have been occupying the Chiefs who 20 minutes into their game against the Cheetahs last week were down 0-24.

Assistant coach Neil Barnes said: "We weren't happy with how we started and we've had a look inside our own team with how we're preparing for games, whether we were really on song at the start.

"You have to give the Cheetahs credit, we kicked off to them and they used the ball wide and put a little kick in behind us which most teams don't usually do.

"They came to play and plus, we thought they out-physicaled us in the first 15-20 minutes of the game and that is something we are not too happy with. So this week will be a little bit more about us," he said.

The side hadn't won the battles within the game that showed whether it was on song or not and was getting behind on points and starting to make mistakes under pressure. That was about not having the minds on the job, and having their preparation right and playing the way Chiefs were expected to play, he said.

It was possible complacency was a factor, especially against sides lower down the points table in comparison to the New Zealand derbies which were much more intense.

Barnes said complacency could occur when only three or four players didn't give the opposition the respect they deserved and impacted on the whole team's effort.

"When you play the local derbies there is a fair bit of fear that you won't get it right and you'll come second in one of those encounters, and when you come up against someone lower down the table you might take the finger off the pulse a little bit and that's all it takes at this level.

"We're not hiding from it but we don't think we've been on song in the last couple of games so let's hope we get it right this week," he said.

Barnes said the Force were a good all-round team. Their set-piece was very good and their lineout work was 'sharp'.

"We know we're in for a battle, they haven't got weaknesses all over the place. They haven't got the results they've wanted right across the season but they're certainly a team that can knock anybody over on their day

Prop Siegfried Fisi'ihoi was getting another chance while Kane Hames was given a chance to rest a shoulder injury which had been an on-going niggle that had been managed.

Wing Toni Pulu was a similar case with a knee injury and while his form had been good, Shaun Stevenson had been making an impact when coming off the bench so it was a chance for him to stake his claim for the No.1 spot.

Concerns over Anton Lienert-Brown's knee injury suffered in Africa had reduced after he came through the travel well and was able to take his place in training.

Former New Zealand Under-20s prop Aidan Ross had been included on the bench with the chance to make his Super Rugby debut. He joined the squad as injury cover when Mitchell Graham was injured earlier in the season and he had been working hard.

"He's a model player really, very professional in what he does," he said.

Sam McNicol had been retained at centre after being dropped in the deep end and the team management had been delighted with the job he did for the side.

"He'll be even better this weekend now that he's got a game under his belt but we're delighted for him, he got the bulk of it right so it is another opportunity to cement a place there," he said.