Wily front row veteran Mahonri Schwalger says set-piece has won the Chiefs their Super Rugby titles in the last two years and that is where the main problem is this season.
Get that right and the benefits flow through the secondary phases, the breakdowns and the backline attack.
More specifically the tough hooker, who at 35 and with a suspect knee is this year mostly coming off the bench after some earlier disruptions due to eye surgery, agrees an inconsistent lineout is the major cause for concern.
"The last couple of years we won the championship by good set-pieces and if you want to win this competition you've got to make sure you can win your own ball from lineout and scrums," Schwalger said.
But he does believe they are on the improve and to some extent felt what happened in Wellington last weekend against the Hurricanes in a 45-8 thrashing was an abberation and they can get it right against the tall Waratahs lineout tomorrow in New Plymouth.
"Down in Wellington it was pretty windy so, we're not trying to make some excuse, but the wind did get the better of us.
"We've been working really hard on it and hopefully this week we get it right."
Schwalger has always been seen as a key man with his accurate lineout throwing and powerful scrummaging, but in 22-year-old Nathan Harris they do appear to have found another good thrower who brings more mobility than the former Samoa captain can these days offer.
"The scrum has been working really well but we've got to be consistent every week though and we're going to come up against a big pack this week so hopefully we can maintain it."
Schwalger was in the thick of some fairly physical and competitive work among the forwards at training earlier this week as the Chiefs tried to add a steely edge to their attitude going into tomorrow's game.
"You could see the Hurricanes wanted it more than us and you could see that in the way they were playing.
"They are the sort of team that if you give them the confidence they are hard to bring back down.
"You could see at the weekend we weren't there mentally, we were there only for patches of the game and the coaches have been touching on that all week," Schwalger said.
However, the good thing about the competition was that you had another week to get it right and any team could beat any team on the day with just two points separating the top four teams in the New Zealand Conference.
That meant having to be on top of their game this week.
"We're just one win away from getting back on top so we've got to make sure we get it right," Schwalger said.
It didn't help that most teams had successfully analysed the Chiefs, as back-to-back champions, and had come up with various strategies to nullify their game.
"It's catching up with us at the moment but it's nothing we can't fix and we are shifting things around and hopefully we get it right this week," he said.
- Waikato Times
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