Bates targets morale-boosting win
February 20, 2007

In other circumstances, Chiefs captain Steven Bates might savour a 50th Super rugby appearance when his team takes on the Bulls in Pretoria on Sunday morning (NZ time).

But Bates, 27, will be leading a side whose backs are against the wall, having lost their first three matches to the Brumbies, Hurricanes and Stormers.

The Chiefs take on a Bulls side boasting a massive forward pack still smarting from a surprise loss to the Western Force last weekend.

The Bulls lost 27-30 to the Force -- and the home defeat was not something they would take lightly, Bates felt.

"They haven't lost too many times at home so I suspect there'll be revenge on their minds," Bates said.

The Chiefs, second from the bottom with four bonus points, have been missing frontliners such as Sione Lauaki, Richard Kahui and Keith Robinson from the start of the season.

Others on the list include Jono Gibbes and Sosene Anesi after the Hurricanes match and Auckland draft player Tasesa Lavea.

But Bates makes no excuses for the team's poor start to the season.

"We have had a lot of injuries but they are part of the game.

"It would have been nice to have a few (of them) out there (playing) but we have to roll with the punches and their replacements should stand up and be counted."

Lauaki has recovered from a broken wrist and Kahui from a shoulder injury, so both are in contention for the Bulls match.

There was still a question mark over All Blacks lock Robinson who has a calf strain.

"If we have those three, it'll be tremendous as they are quality footballers and Kahui in particular will help our kicking game."

Bates said his own form had in general been pretty good but as a team, the Chiefs had to eliminate costly mistakes from their games.

"If I get out there to play my 50th game for the Chiefs, it will be something I can look back on and be proud of.

"But there's no incentive for the team to `do it for me'. They are focused on getting a win for themselves."

Bates, in his fifth Super season, said the Chiefs were a better side "than our results show".

"We have created opportunities in our games and unfortunately haven't capitalised on them, so hopefully we start winning from now on.

"Coach Ian Foster has been emphasising that we have got in positions to score points in all our games but our final passing is letting us down.

"It's an individual skill thing and people have to make sure they are concentrating on doing their job."

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