Kane Hames is grumpy about the Chiefs' scrummaging against the Sunwolves.

The all All Blacks' front-row failed to consistently impose themselves against their committed and less vaunted Japanese counterparts last Saturday night, so expect more time to be devoted to that key area with scrum coach Carl Hoeft ahead of Saturday's clash with the Reds in New Plymouth.

"I don't like to use the word 'owned' unless I'm the one doing the owning," quipped loosehead prop Hames.

"It was pretty inconsistent. I think it was a combination of lack of preparation at scrum time, coming back from the tour, and we put minimal time in, about 10 minutes. It probably showed in the results and we hadn't prepared for a few things they had done.

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"We went over time today again for other stuff and got cut short with our scrummaging. It can be frustrating, I remember a quote 'You don't rise to the level of your expectations, you fall to the level of your preparation.' I really hope that doesn't happen. I hope we value that a bit more and put more work into it."

Sounds like a challenge to Hoeft and forwards coach Neil Barnes as much as it is to his fellow players. The Reds, who were edged 29-26 by the Waratahs, may be on the receiving end, though they have some hard, seasoned campaigners in their pack such as Stephen Moore, George Smith and Scott Higginbotham mixed with the youth of men like prop Taniela Tupou, likely to again feature off the bench.

"We are frustrated with the performances we have put together in the last couple of weeks and we are hoping to fix it," Hames says.

Dave Rennie quipped that two grumpy sides will be locking horns in New Plymouth.

"Our lineout, which has been excellent all year, battled. The Sunwolves defended really well and their scrum was a nuisance," added Rennie.

It is curious fact that the Chiefs have been more impressive against New Zealand sides than the foreign teams.

The Chiefs will be encouraged by the return to the selection radar of several players, including halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow, who just needed to come through contact sessions unscathed, lock Michael Allardice, hooker Nathan Harris and probably centre Tim Nanai-Williams.

Brodie Retallick will be back to add some grunt to the scrums and rucks and midfielder Johnny Fa'auli returns from suspension. Charlie Ngatai, after another 80 minutes, this time at first five, for his Waikato University club, last Saturday, will also be in the mix, confirmed Rennie. So the Chiefs, in need of an injection of something sharp and packed with energy after two listless displays, with the exception of Damian McKenzie, are now getting many of their walking wounded back.

The team for the Reds clash will be named on Thursday afternoon.