Chiefs ready for knockout clash with Waratahs

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Accepting the Waratahs would come to Hamilton looking to extend their improvement to claim a semifinals berth in DHL Super Rugby Pacific would be the motivation the Chiefs needed to make their own statement.


That was the view of Chiefs' flanker Luke Jacobson ahead of Saturday's game at FMG Stadium.


"We know the Waratahs have got some x-factor they can bring, but I'm confident if we nail what we set out to do ,we're a bloody dangerous team, and nobody is going to be able to stop us," he said.


"There's a huge focus on ourselves to get into the right mindset," he said.


While they had finished the regular season in third place, Jacobson said they felt they had done all right without hitting their straps.


It was exciting to be in knockout football, and where they finished on the table didn't matter now, he said.


"It's literally what you put in week-in, week-out now. There's been a good fizz about the week and I reckon we're in a good spot," he said.


The mindset of finals rugby was similar around attack and defence, but there was heightened intensity about the week and the game on Saturday.


"But that's good. It's exciting, it's the place you want to be and it's time to play some top-level footy," he said.


Jacobson said he was surprised the Chiefs hadn't hosted a home playoff since 2013, but it was an exciting prospect to play on his home ground in front of local fans.


"We'll be looking forward to putting on a bit of a show for our fans and families," he said.

Coach Clayton McMillan said flanker and captain Sam Cane had trained on Tuesday but was not quite right, and not considered for the game.


If they reached the semifinals next week, he would be available.


"We'd love to have him out there, he's our skipper and we value what he brings to the table but we don't want to risk anyone, especially him, at this stage of the year," he said.


The Waratahs would be dangerous, he said.


"They are probably the most improved team in the competition from last year. We experienced that in the first trans-Tasman game this year. We sort of managed to pull away in the end, but we had a few favours go our way. They went down a couple of numbers early, and we were able to bag some points.


"Their game's got better and better, there's internal belief, you can see that emanate from them. They look like a happy bunch.


"What makes them really dangerous is that they'll be coming here with a siege mentality, nothing to lose," he said.


McMillan said the players needed to enjoy the moment because it had been a long time from late-December until now, and a lot of work put in, so they needed to enjoy the fact they had earned the right to be in the playoffs.


It was also about winning the moments which, when put together, could be the winning or losing of games.


"It's going to be tough but the team that cherishes the ball and makes the most of those opportunities will be on the right side of the points table," he said.


With Alex Nankivell back in his preferred position in the midfield, McMillan was looking for a big lift in his game.


On the wings they had gone for something a little different, and he felt Etene Nanai-Seturo and Jonah Lowe gave them a little x-factor that they would probably need in their finals run.


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