Chiefs seek better balance against Highlanders

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:00 24/06/2014

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The Chiefs are preparing for a fast-paced game under the roof in Dunedin when they return to Super Rugby action on Friday night.

And they back their fitness to be able to compete in such a contest but one of their biggest players is adamant they need to find a better balance in their game, starting with the Highlanders this week.

Big loosehead prop Jamie Mackintosh - 1.93m tall and weighing 130kg - used to captain the Highlanders and is familiar with the consistently dry, conditions of Dunedin Stadium.

While it enabled teams to play a fast game, some had been guilty in the past of overdoing that, and Mackintosh said the Chiefs were looking to get their attacking game back on a more even keel.

"I think the coaches have really stripped back our game and had a look at some aspects we need to tidy up," Mackintosh said.

"It made a lot of sense, the presentation they gave to us. We've just got to get the balance of our game right.

"We're probably trying to play a bit too much footy but we've had an awesome week just adapting to a bit of a new game plan."

They also needed to get their core skills up to scratch, which included the set pieces and in particular their lineout.

"Heading down to that stadium against the Highlanders it's going to be a pretty fast-paced game, so we want to be pretty good defensively too and we've done a lot of work with Smithy [defensive coach Wayne Smith] in the last week and a half as well."

Mackintosh said players loved playing in the indoor stadium in Dunedin, just like they loved playing afternoon games, because of the lack of interference from outside elements.

"You play with a dry ball and you can catch it out in front of you, you can pass it a lot better, but when the ball gets a bit dewy at night time it can be pretty hard to handle.

"You take away the wind, the rain and the dew and you get a pretty awesome playing environment and also a great surface so that you get some fast, hard rugby and that's what everyone wants to see."

Mackintosh said the Chiefs backed their fitness to compete in such conditions. He also believes they have the team to get through to the playoffs, while conceding the other New Zealand teams probably feel the same.

"We've got ourselves in a position where we're beating each other and are going to knock each other out of the playoffs, which is pretty exciting really," he said.

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- Fairfax Media

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