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Chiefs' attitude under scrutiny against Bulls

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Sportal.co.nz     25 Mar 2014     Getty Images

Smith said he took nothing away from the Force's effort. They played well and proved a tough nut to crack on attack.

And when the Chiefs did not have quite the right attitude, they paid for it, he said.

"The preparation was not as good as it has been.

"We let our standards down in every area. The Force are proving a genuine contender, they were almost Chiefs-like in the way they played," Smith said.

The malaise affecting the defending champions had been contagious and it spread through the side.

They know they need a significant turnaround in this weekend's outing at Loftus Versfeld against the Bulls.

"It never comes easy at Loftus. Every win you have there is a special occasion," he said.

As a result of the loss in Perth there was a bit of an edge around the Chiefs regarding selection for this weekend's game.

"There's a fair bit of anxiety this week and when you prepare like that the players know every place is up for selection competition," he said.

Smith said the coaches were happy with the team they put out against the Force and that over the years they had prided themselves on being able to cope with injury-enforced changes.

They would have a full squad available for selection for the game, although Tim Nanai-Williams had not trained early in the week due to a hamstring strain.

A feature of the side's season has been the continuing area of concern at the set piece and the lineout remained a work in progress.

"We are up against the best lineout in the competition which has got the best lineout forward [Victor Matfield] running it.

"We will have to execute better under pressure," he said.

Attempting to reduce the ability of the Bulls to implement their driving lineout mauls would be dependent on not conceding dumb penalties, Smith said, because that would allow the Bulls to kick for the corners and utilise their lineout drive for tries.

"That's a pattern you don't want to get into," he said.

But concentrating on the forward play would not be enough because the Bulls had a good backline who were capable of launching significant attacks.

"We have got to step up. If we go in like we did against the Force we'll have no show.

"It is always difficult after a loss like that. You can talk all you like, you have to perform on the field," Smith said.