Chiefs face historic challenge

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The Australian side, who have won only one game to date in 2020, have won their last four home games against the Chiefs.


Head coach Warren Gatland said they were disappointed with their loss to the Brumbies but, over the bye week, one of their areas of concentration was in starting well.


"We feel like we're in good shape physically and conditioning-wise," he said.


They were now focusing on a few improvements they needed to make to be ready for the Waratahs in Woollongong.


They had been working on issues with their scrum, especially conceding penalties, but Aidan Ross and Ross Geldenhuys would be starting in Australia with Reuben O'Neill and Ryan Coxon on the bench. Atu Moli was forced out of consideration due to illness, joining fellow All Blacks Nepo Laulala and Angus Ta'avao on the sick list.


But Gatland was unfazed.


"We're pretty happy with where we are. We've got some work to do and for me, particularly in this early part of the season that we keep the squad getting opportunities," he said.

It wasn't so much a case of rotating players, but keeping all members of the squad motivated, interested and feeling like they have an opportunity to increase the confidence and self-belief among those players who might have to step up in the latter part of the campaign.


Gatland said he expected the Waratahs to move the ball. They were a team that used quick ball effectively. They had been desperate for a win in their last game, which they achieved which would give them increased confidence.


They were probably viewing it as a very important game for them because a loss against the Chiefs would put them further out of the picture.


"But a win against us and they're still in the hunt and they feel like they've got an opportunity in terms of making the quarterfinals so we're pretty aware of how important it is for them and for us it's important as well in putting the disappointment of that last game [against the Brumbies] and getting ourselves back on track," he said.


At the same time, they were aware the Waratahs had been a bogey team for the Chiefs, something captain Sam Cane addressed during the side's preparations. They were also aware that playing at a new location sometimes proved an incentive for the home side to get up and perform.


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