Chiefs take leaf out of Force book

Chiefs coach Ian Foster wants his team to get “excited” about their Super 14 encounter with the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, a game in which they will take a leaf out of the Western Force book of “how to beat the Bulls”.

Despite being the only team in the competition not to have won a game, the Chiefs coach feels his team is better than their lowly position (second from last) on the standings suggest.

Foster readily acknowledges that the Bulls are “formidable opposition” in Pretoria, especially after going down 30-27 to the Force last week.

“They’ll be hurting from their loss, and I guess it is fair to say that expectations on us are pretty low,” Foster told this website.

“We want to go out there and get excited.

“It is pretty obvious what they’re very good at and yet teams like the Force maybe showed that if you can play and maybe keep the ball alive and have numbers at the breakdown and be accurate you can get a flow on against them.

“That is really our focus,” the coach said.

He also touched on the disruption caused by a spate of injuries to his team.

In fact even in the final days of his team’s preparations for Saturday’s outings there were further injury disruptions.

The Chiefs’ hopes of using both loose forward Sione Lauaki and centre Richard Kahui faded as soon as they were raised. Kahui, who was rushed to South Africa this week after recovering from a shoulder injury, may be ruled out before he even takes to the field. It has been confirmed that his hamstring has tightened at training.

Foster said Kahui was unable to complete the session, after his hamstring tightened up. Foster said they will monitor him over the next 48 hours.

A decision on whether Kahui, Stephen Donald and Keith Robinson will start will be made only on game day.

“It’s been very disruptive to be honest,” Foster said.

“You never want to lose players of the calibre of Keith Robinson, Sione Luake, Jono Gibbes, Richard Kahui, Soseni Anesi – it’s hit us a little bit.

“But in saying that we’ve been pretty smart and we’re not rushing anyone back until they are ready.”

Another aspect that has frustrated the Chiefs is the fact that they have not lost any of their games by more than seven points – meaning they were always within one score of as victory.

We’ve just got to look hard at ourselves,” Foster said.

“We have to look at getting excited when we get those little opportunities. The Stormers game (a 21-16 defeat) was full of chances where we weren’t smart enough with the ball.

“Again, structurally we created a lot. There’s lot of good set-ups, where perhaps good decision making and good talking would have got us through and we didn’t do it.

“But in saying that it is not like the [Chiefs’] game is broken. It is early days in this championship and we’re not out of it. We just got to keep having faith in it.

“It’s a case of new combinations in our backs. We’ve got a relatively inexperienced backline at this level that is finding its feet and sometimes you just got to be a little patient when you develop that form of experience.”

Against the Bulls on Saturday they hope to take the first steps in rectifying those issues.

“We are just looking at maximising our own opportunities and that takes a lot of talk, a lot of hard work to get the guys in the right positions. But we seem to be doing that and not delivering that final pass – or young guys who’ve gone a bit quiet at the wrong moment – and that’s the margin of error at the moment.”

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital

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