Improving in the face of growing pains is an important process for the Chiefs who've headed into their bye week clear and calm.

While the defeat to the Brumbies came as a bitter disappointment, there is no need for alarm bells. What's ahead provides an opportunity to sharpen up on the crucial mental aspect of rugby, something that was timely for the Chiefs.

Rugby is a simple game if you speak to most high-level coaches. They say that usually the losing of it comes from basic errors such as losing the ball too many times, not having a good night at set piece, and being on the wrong side of territory/possession.

In the aftermath, some argued that the Chiefs came into their clash against the Brumbies a little complacent, others blamed it on the rest and rotation.


Ultimately, it wasn't too much on the side of either of those things.

The main issue is the poor starts to games, something that has been a regular showing for the Chiefs since the competition started.

It's just that the side who many thought least likely, the Brumbies, ended up capitalising on it and did what even the three-time defending champion Crusaders couldn't when they enjoyed the early multiple-try lead a fortnight earlier.

To win Super Rugby you need to face adversity and several checks in attitude along the way.

The Chiefs got that in spades when the Brumbies virtually played them off the park in parts of the last match and were, by far, the better decision makers in crucial moments.

In response to potential awakening worry, Warren Gatland has been calmer than ever this week.

The master coach is seeking a step-up in mental focus ahead of games, with the aim of starting better and not being dominated in the territory and possession stakes to begin.

Leaking early points is not due to any major issues on defence, at least ones that can't be fixed, like first up tackles for instance.


It's the going against early pressure and momentum while always being on the wrong side of ball which allows the opposition to ease into their work against the Chiefs.

It's almost as if going down a score or two kicks Gatland's men into life somewhat.

It was always going to prove fatal sooner or later and you'd rather discover it now rather than late in the season.

The mental focus that Gatland talks about also factors in game preparation, particularly how the team warms up on the day.

Those final key moments before taking the field and what might or might not being going on inside the minds of players, now under the microscope.

The Chiefs have been a side to embrace change this year, they'll likely be willing to embrace just a bit more if it means getting back on the horse again.


A bye week is the perfect time to nut out those details.