Securing a home quarterfinal motivates Gallagher Chiefs

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Chiefs captain Sam Cane said the Force were a tough team, especially in Perth, but they were coming off a disappointing loss in Dunedin, so it was shaping as a big game for both sides.

 

"They're a team that holds onto the ball really well. They build phases, they build pressure, so our discipline will have to be sharp, and we will have to be willing to defend for long periods of time.

 

"But with that comes opportunities to pressure their skill set and create turnover opportunities too. Much like the Rebels, they are a side that are a lot better than where they are on the points table," he said.

 

Coach Clayton McMillan said the Chiefs had not played their best over the past three or four weeks.

 

"We've identified three or four areas of our game that if we can tidy up and get some growth we are going to see some rapid improvement in our performances and hopefully that is enough to get us into the quarterfinals at home with a wet sail," he said.

 

"We are the first to admit we aren't playing great rugby.

 

"We know if we continue along that trend, we are not going to go far in the competition so there's a real internal drive to see a lift in performance and this week with more challenges we get an opportunity to do that. I think it's been a great week of preparation despite those challenges. I want to see that manifest into something we can be proud of," he said.

 

McMillan said other teams had done them no favour by dealing heavy losses on the Force.

"That tends to sharpen the focus and creates a resolve to want to come out and play better. We experienced that with the Rebels last week, and I imagine it will be the same for the Force.

 

"I reckon they're a highly underrated side. They haven't got a lot of name superstars, but I think they understand where their strengths lie. They play to them really well and are tough to beat over in Perth but we look forward, this time, to meeting them in our backyard," he said.

 

Cane said they had been concentrating this week on the areas they needed to get better at and not gifting 21 soft points as happened against the Rebels.

 

Cane said former All Black Richard Kahui was a passionate Chiefs man, and would face a special moment returning to play against them. He was an exceptional athlete who was good on both sides of the ball.

 

The way he had overcome two shoulder injuries and been able to carry on playing until the age of 36 was inspiring, he said.

 

Cane said loose forward Pita Gus Sowakula, who will make his 50th appearance for the Chiefs, was a massive contributor the side.

 

"He's consistently worked at his game and got better and better every year," he said.

 

He made a late start to rugby after playing basketball for Otago before committing to rugby. His body had changed with the Chiefs. He had put on weight and knew how to use it, he said.