Chiefs coach Ian Foster says they won’t revert to a conservative approach just because it’s a final.
The Chiefs finished the league phase as the tournament’s second highest scorers and have a penchant for expansive rugby. They have, however, tempered their preferred approach in recent weeks, scoring just 40 points in their last three matches.
But to expect them to simply sit back and absorb pressure would be as foolish as expecting the Bulls to shelve their kicking game in favour of tossing the pill around in cavalier fashion.
‘To qualify for a Super 14 final for the first time, is undoubtedly a major highlight. This is what we’ve been working towards for the entire season. My instruction to the players was to stick with to pattern of play that has worked for us so far during the season,’ Foster said from his team’s training base at Pretoria Boys High.
Foster watched his team being outplayed by a well organised and clinical Bulls side in the league phase match at Loftus, but insisted that that defeat hadn’t inflicted any psychological wounds. He also stressed that the Loftus crowd, who are irrepressible when their team gains the ascendency, wouldn’t overawe his players.
‘The round-robin fixture in Pretoria counts in our favour because the players know what to expect,’ he said. ‘It’s a golden opportunity we have to make the most of.’
The Bulls systematically strangled the fight out of the Crusaders in the semi-final, primarily through the unfailing boot of flyhalf Morné Steyn, who kicked well tactically, and, more significantly, sunk four drop goals to ensure the scoreboard had no respite.
Chiefs captain Mils Muliana said they would have to blunt the collective, but was acutely aware of the possibility of Steyn staging a repeat performance.
‘How do you prevent Morné Steyn from drop kicking? That’s a good question. If anyone could give me a few tips I would greatly appreciate it,’ he joked.
‘Twelve points is a lot. With that you could win or lose a match. I don’t think there’s any way you could stop an attempted drop-kick from the halfway mark.’
As for acclimatisation to the lung-busting altitude and the related effects thereof, Foster said, ‘The players will especially have to get used to the way the ball moves through the air. It almost seems like the ball stays in the air for longer.
‘This week we’ll only be doing some light exercising. Actually, at this late stage, there isn’t much we can change about our pattern of play. The players must get enough sleep and adjust to their new time zone. They must also start thinking like winners.’