Chiefs look to turn big disappointment around

SMASHED: Chiefs players look on in disbelief as as the Hurricanes hammer them into submission in Wellington.
SMASHED: Chiefs players look on in disbelief as as the Hurricanes hammer them into submission in Wellington.

Chiefs assistant coach Wayne Smith goes back to the All Blacks' World Cup quarterfinal loss to France in Cardiff in 2007 to find a greater disappointment.

Wing Dwayne Sweeney remembers a similar feeling when losing to the Hurricanes by 20 points in Wellington - but that was six years ago in 2008.

No doubt about it, the Chiefs' 45-8 thumping at the hands of the 'Canes at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night rates as one of the worst losses that members of the current Chiefs team have experienced.

Now it is how they mentally switch back on, identify what needs fixing and do it ahead of this Saturday's 4.35pm home fixture against the Australian Conference-leading Waratahs in New Plymouth.

"It's not a nice feeling," admitted Sweeney, who joined the team mid-season as a replacement for injured outside back Mils Muliaina after returning from a playing stint in Japan.

"Especially after the performance we had against the Blues. We felt pretty confident going into the week that we were right on top of our game and we just got out-passioned.

"That's not what we're about and we're doing everything we can to make sure we rectify that for this weekend."

There was certainly plenty of heat at training yesterday, particularly among the forwards, whom assistant coach Tom Coventry had running between scrums, lineouts and highly physical and competitive mauling contests.

Sweeney does not buy into the claim that the Chiefs had got too comfortable after their win against the Blues two weeks earlier, which preceded their bye.

"I'm not a strong believer in that. I think it might just be that we weren't up to it on that day."

But he believes a key lesson from the Wellington thumping is that the Chiefs need to have a solid second option to fall back on when their A game is not firing on all cylinders.

"Something I always remember from a coach I had in the past was that, if you don't have your best A game, make sure you've got your best B game, because not everybody can be awesome every week. But, as long as in that B game you're working really hard to limit mistakes and just doing your job, you can be of huge benefit to the team.

"I think that's probably a good focus from that game. We didn't have our A game but we definitely didn't have our best B game either and we missed a lot of opportunities to score points."

Sweeney said they were still confident in what they were capable of doing.

"Before training today we just said 'boys, we've done it before'. Two weeks ago we showed it, last weekend's just a bump in the road and we have to get over it, we can't dwell on it.

"We just need to make sure we're putting our best foot forward, that we prepare really well and I've got no doubts that we can perform and we can win."

Waikato Times