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Leonard plays baiting game with Sharks

Getty Images     25 Apr 2013     Getty Images

The Sharks have been maimed by injury problems throughout the year, with coach John Plumtree revealing earlier in the week that his side is missing 15 players.

Their depleted squad has forced the former Wellington Lions coach to recruit players from the relegated Gauteng Lions side.

The franchise was dropped from the competition in favour of the Southern Kings at the end of the 2012 season.

While the Durban-based franchise is worrying about finding 26 players for their Australasian tour, Leonard said he and the Chiefs wouldn't be taking the side lightly.

"I guess we're probably not too worried with what team they put out. I've played with the Chiefs for a number of years and we've played badly against worse sides," said Leonard.

"Regardless of whether their whole 15 is playing, they've still got some extremely good rugby players in there."

Given the way the Waikato franchise has been performing over the last two weeks, caution is certainly a buzz word in the Chiefs camp.

Despite putting themselves in a winning position with a try to Ben Tameifuna in the 73rd minute, the Chiefs let victory slip through their grasp when the hosts crashed over for a come-from-behind 25-20 victory.

Leonard made his first start of the season, and the opening 40 minutes were some he had wanted to forget.

"That first 10 minutes we put ourselves under pressure with poor discipline and we struggled to turn that around," Leonard admitted.

It wasn't until his side were able to 'step back, have a breather then get some messages on board' that the visitors clicked into gear.

"We've got to act on the field a bit better and change momentum if we don't have it."

When asked about the poor performance of New Zealand sides against Australian opposition - the Hurricanes are the only New Zealand team to have tasted Trans-Tasman victory this season - Leonard welcomed a more competitive tournament.

"I think New Zealand sides bar up when they play one another and potentially we go off the boil when we go against other teams."