After being battered by the Brumbies in Canberra last weekend, the message from the Chiefs camp was loud and clear - they needed to sort their game out.

The Chiefs return home to host the Sunwolves in Hamilton on Saturday night after leaking more than 50 points to the Brumbies last time out.

Opening the season with two losses in as many rounds, conceding 84 points across 160 minutes of football, assistant coach Tabai Matson admitted the team's defensive had been poor to start the year.

"There's been a massive focus this week on defence, and not only having a defensive edge, but having a physical edge that comes with it," he said.

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"We've been very poor, and we need to sharpen up if we're going to contain them."

While the Chiefs struggled in their last outing, the Sunwolves showed their ability to compete with the sides in the competition as they fell to an agonising one point loss against a strong Waratahs outfit.

The Chiefs will be without All Blacks Nepo Laulala, Nathan Harris and Anton Lienert-Brown for the match, with the trio observing one of their mandatory stand down weeks. Prop Sosefo Kautai joins the squad on the bench, while Samisoni Taukei'aho and Orbyn Leger replace Harris and Lienert-Brown respectively.

Brodie Retallick celebrated his 100th Super Rugby cap last weekend. Photo / Photosport
Brodie Retallick celebrated his 100th Super Rugby cap last weekend. Photo / Photosport

Club captain Brodie Retallick, who last week celebrated his 100th Super Rugby cap, will start the match however is expected to be limited to 34 minutes of action due to the All Blacks player welfare agreement between New Zealand Rugby and the Kiwi franchises. The clubs agreed to limit the country's top players to 180 minutes across the opening three rounds, and Retallick has played 146 over the first two matches.

"The minutes thing, it is what it is, but we're starting him because we need a really big performance for the team and we know that he's a key part of that," Matson said.

"The minutes will be managed as they have to be, but he's a critical ingredient in getting over the Sunwolves."

Sean Wainui moves straight into a starting spot on the wing after overcoming a shoulder injury, with Ataata Moeakiola shifting back to the bench.

"We think his injection this week is really critical for us to bounce back," Matson said of Wainui's inclusion.

"Fundamentally, he was one of our most consistent players last year. We haven't been as physical as we could be, and one of the things Wainui brings is his real physicality, as well as his work-rate and communication."

Chiefs: Shaun Stevenson, Sean Wainui, Tumua Manu, Orbyn Leger, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Damian McKenzie, Brad Weber, Taleni Seu, Mitchell Karpik, Mitchell Brown, Michael Allardice, Brodie Retallick, Angus Ta'avao, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Aidan Ross. Reserves: Bradley Slater, Tevita Mafileo, Sosefo Kautai, Jesse Parete, Lachlan Boshier, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Alex Nankivell, Ataata Moeakiola