Consistency Chiefs' biggest challenge
Chiefs hooker Mahonri Schwalger said his side's success this season is down to a simple formula: Learning the gameplan and sticking to it.
Speaking ahead of the Waikato franchise's clash with the Western Force at Pukekohe's Ecolight Stadium on Friday, Schwalger said the younger players were embracing the challenge of attaining consistency at crucial periods.
"For the guys it's the consistency to stick to the game plan," Schwalger said.
"We've got a really young team, they have a lot of enthusiasm and energy to run, but at this sort of level there's a time and place for that. I think we need to stick to a gameplan."
Schwalger argued it was that sort of consistency that saw them get out of jail against a determined Rebels side that pushed the Crusaders before succumbing 26-30 in Christchurch a week earlier.
"We went there to do a job and we did it. A lot of these teams are playing really good rugby, so we need to switch on for the whole 80 minutes."
Switching on against another Australian franchise will again be called on for what is expected to be a torrid affair with the Force in Pukekohe on Friday night.
While most of the Australian franchises were performing well outside of their own conference, the former Samoa captain said they had plenty of incentives to perform well.
"Most of the sides are looking to be in the Wallabies side to play the Lions. I think that's the other reason these guys are playing really well.
"A lot of these teams are playing really good rugby so we need to switch on for the whole 80 minutes."
The Force have 18 competition points in total from 12 rounds of play. The Chiefs, by contrast have 40 - over twice as many as their opponents on Friday.
It's a homecoming of sorts for the Counties Manukau No.2, Schwalger is excited about trotting onto the park with fellow ITM Cup teammates, including Bundee Aki and Tim Nanai Williams.
"We know our supporters from Counties Manukau will be out supporting the boys. Hopefully it'll be a good crowd and we're looking forward to putting in a good performance."
Kickoff is at 7.35pm on Friday.