Things have become a bit tasty at Chiefs training this week and that can only mean one thing - big, big game coming up.
Coach Dave Rennie admitted there'd been a bit more bite to go along with the bark as they ramped up operations following a low-key outing against the Lions.
"It's like finals footy already," Rennie said. "There's been an edge at training and that's been driven by our leaders, guys who have been over there and played before and are well aware of the difficulties.
"There's certainly been a step up in intensity compared to last week."
The Chiefs face the Reds in front of what is expected to be a large crowd at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow.
For the Chiefs, it is important; for the defending champions, it is must-win.
The Chiefs welcome back Brodie Retallick and Liam Messam after they were rested against the Lions, while Alex Bradley has got the nod over Kane Thompson for the No 8 jersey.
In the end, it was probably the fact that Mike Fitzgerald has undergone a procedure to have his nose re-straightened after breaking it against the Lions that saw the call go in Bradley's favour.
"That was a really close call," Rennie revealed. "It was one of the positions we haggled over during the week. In the end, we're starting Alex because Kane will cover both No 8 and lock."
One of the few selections forced on the Chiefs was Brendon Leonard at halfback. He has mixed the good with the not-so-good since his return from a hamstring injury, but Tawera Kerr-Barlow's illness makes Leonard's experience vital against the prodigious talents of Will Genia.
"We would have started Tawera this week, but he's crook," said Rennie. "He's had the flu. It's got to the stage where he'll work hard but have trouble breathing and vomit.
"We thought he was on the improve ... but it hasn't progressed quick enough."
The Reds made life difficult for the Crusaders last week but Rennie said that there were still chinks in their armour they would look to exploit.
"They're a good side. They've steeled their defence from where they were four or five weeks ago.
"Obviously Genia's a big part of their play and we need to be able to stifle his running and kicking game."
Reds prop Ben Daley will start in the front row. Daley missed the Reds' 15-11 loss to the Crusaders last weekend with a hamstring strain. He replaces Greg Holmes. Flanker Beau Robinson also returns from injury, which sees the out-of-form Radike Samo drop out of the squad.
Coach Ewen McKenzie said: "You can sense a huge lift in the confidence and intensity of our play following the return of a number of players and they will only continue to play better the more they get the opportunity to play alongside one another."
Reds v Chiefs
Brisbane, tomorrow, 6.10pm
James Horwill (c)
Reserves: Saia Fainga'a, Greg Holmes, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Beau Robinson, Eddie Quirk, Nick Frisby, Rod Davies.
Sonny Bill Williams
Craig Clarke (c)
Reserves: Hika Elliot, Toby Smith, Kane Thompson, Sam Cane, Augustine Pulu, Jackson Willison, Robbie Robinson.By Dylan Cleaver Email Dylan