Winning creates its own pressure with Chiefs squad

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That was all the more important after making such a strong winning start to the competition with wins over the Blues and Crusaders.

 

Coach Warren Gatland has opted to ring changes for the game but sees that choice as vital to developing as much depth as possible in the squad.

 

"We're happy with where we're at at the moment, and where the squad is," he said.

 

"It was always the plan in these first four or five rounds to have everyone involved in some aspect in the match day 23 so we're in a good position to be able to do that and make some changes and also some really good experience in the squad."

 

Lock Michael Allardice returns to the squad to ease pressure in the middle row and Gatland was looking forward to seeing him in action.

 

"The forwards coach is singing his high praises and I just hope he backs up all the good things he's been saying about him," he said.

 

Making his debut for the side, but his 96th Super Rugby appearance will be former All Black blindside flanker Adam Thomson, 37, who has previously played for the Highlanders, Reds and Rebels, and who has returned after a serious back problem.

 

"It's a great thing for us with Adam having his experience and he's fitted into the environment exceptionally well and he's excited about getting a chance on Saturday. It's been good having him come in.

 

"It's a position we've got a lot of strength in at the moment in the loose forward but he gives us options potentially for later in the campaign if we do pick up more injuries and it's great to have someone of his experience involved," he said.

 

The competition within the squad was important and it was easier to achieve that with wins in the first two games.

 

Halfback was one of those positions were the competition was hot and it was good for World Cup halfback Brad Weber to get a start this time around.

 

"The plan for him as part of the All Blacks is that he be rested next week so that gives us a chance to involve – Harris next week in the squad and definitely Brad's experience and captaincy for this weekend is important for us and we're managing him back into our programme," he said.

 

Weber said the captaincy wasn't so much of an issue for him as he was just keen to play and captain or not it was just about doing his job. He was also aware of the cost the team faced when they turned up with the wrong attitude against the Sunwolves last year.

 

Gatland added: "They've had a great win against the Rebels in the first game and they beat us at home last year so we're definitely not going to be taking them lightly and we've got to build on what we've achieved in the first couple of games and keep improving as a side.

 

"It's more the internal pressure we're putting on ourselves to go out there and perform," he said.

 

The Chiefs were in a good position and those players coming in were motivated to build on the good start those used in earlier games had made.

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