Rugby: We can get mojo back: Chiefs


The Chiefs are determined to put a stop to a two-match losing streak and regain their position as the eminent New Zealand team when they take on the Sharks at Waikato Stadium on Saturday night.

Back-to-back losses to Australian powerhouses the Queensland Reds and NSW Waratahs following the bye have put a slight curve ball on the team's prospects of defending the Super Rugby title they won in style last year.

Chiefs assistant coach Wayne Smith

"Sometimes you forget what it actually took to win and we have to get back to doing the little things and the hard work we were doing before the bye," Smith said.

"We have a group that is pretty excited and we have pulled in a new team over the last 18 months and there has been a real rise in standards, and in the performance of the team, and sometimes that as a matter of course just plateaus out a little bit.

"You get another lift and you are away again.

"No one is panicking yet and I don't think it has dented the confidence.

"We had two losses in a row going into the semis last year and then played out of our skins against the Crusaders ..."

Smith says the Australian are strongly motivated this year and that is reflected in how successful they have been against New Zealand teams.

"They are highly motivated, after (our win) last year, to knock us off. Everywhere we go, for example, the marketing campaign is this is the scalp we want because we are the playing-through champions. They have their sights on all the New Zealand teams and the players are putting their hands up for the Lions series.

"So they are highly motivated and playing bloody well.

"Having said that, it is as much about us plateauing a wee bit as it is the other teams, and we haven't really got that spark back we had early on."

Inability to finish off attacking moves in the opposition red zone hurt then dearly in the last two losses. But rather than a technical reason, Smith says it comes down to the Chiefs' style.

"It is aligned to the brand of rugby we play. We have an optimistic group of guys who have a huge attacking attitude and we have encouraged that sort of game because it is motivating to the boys and they love playing it, and it has been successful.

"But when it is slightly off, it is high risk if passes don't stick.

So perhaps we need a wee bit more balance in our game, [get] the ratio between passes to kicks right, and you have to be careful that if you run the ball all the time then that can become predictable.

"I am very confident we will come right," Smith said.

And that needs to start this Saturday against a talented Sharks team chock-full of Springbok players.

The Sharks are sitting in seventh spot on the table.

- Hamilton News

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