Chiefs must overcome Reds bogey
The Chiefs will have to overcome a losing run against the Reds this weekend if they are to preserve their lead at the top of the Super Rugby standings.
The Reds, the 2011 winners, have won their last three encounters with the defending Super Rugby champions and travel to Hamilton on Saturday where they have won the last two meetings.
The Chiefs are leading the overall Super Rugby standings on points differential after front-runners Brumbies were held to a surprise draw at home last weekend by South Africa's newcomers, the Southern Kings.
"They've got lots of names on the field and have a similar game plan," Chiefs wing Lelia Masaga said.
"The Reds were the underdogs at one time and now have been champions. The Reds have beaten us three times and we've struggled to maintain the performance that we need."
Reds' Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie is looking at the game to gauge the season prospects of his team.
"We intend to defend that record having already enjoyed a couple of good wins the last two times we've travelled over there," McKenzie said.
"You benchmark yourself against the best side and they're the incumbents and they are performing well.
"These are the games you really find out about your character as a team, also your character as individuals."
Reds and Wallabies scrumhalf Will Genia rates the Chiefs an even better team this season, even as they attempt to defend their title without World Cup winner Sonny Bill Williams, who has switched back to Australia's National Rugby League.
"Our best chance is to keep the ball for long periods and starve them of possession but they are the kind of side when they do have the ball they like to throw it around so you can force mistakes," Genia said.