Waikato Chiefs told to shape up for Super Rugby clash with Bulls

Adriaan Strauss of the Northern Bulls waits for a referee decision during their Super Rugby match against the Auckland Blues, at QBE Stadium in Auckland, on March 25, 2017

The Waikato Chiefs have been told to get their act together for their Super Rugby clash with the Northern Bulls after an unconvincing win over the struggling Melbourne Rebels.

Coach Dave Rennie read the riot act to the two-time champions after they needed a late burst to overcome Australia's bottom-placed team in their last outing.

"There were some carefully chosen words," Rennie said, after showing his players images from the Rebels match. "When the guys looked at it, they were pretty embarrassed."

The Chiefs return from a bye with a record of four wins out of four games so far to lie second in the New Zealand conference behind the Canterbury Crusaders.

The Crusaders will also need to improve after being sent to scrum school following a series of collapses in their recent wins against the Queensland Reds and Western Force.

Despite having a pack bulging with All Blacks, the seven-time champions have been put through a refresher course in scrum techniques ahead of their game against the NSW Waratahs in Sydney.

"We want it to be a contest, and we don't want re-sets like that," said assistant forwards coach Jason Ryan.

- 'Kiwi day' -

The Wellington Hurricanes will need to contend with the after-effects of Cyclone Debbie as they take on the Queensland Reds in storm-soaked Brisbane.

As well as the severe weather, the Hurricanes will also have to cope with the loss of captain and All Blacks hooker Dane Coles, who is nursing an injured knee.

Meanwhile the Western Stormers revealed an unusual approach to training ahead of their game against the unfancied Central Cheetahs.

While the Cheetahs may not pose formidable opposition, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck is taking a long-term view and preparing his side as if facing a New Zealand franchise.

A quirk of the draw meant the Stormers did not play a New Zealand side last year until the quarter-finals when thrashed 60-21 by the Chiefs.

They play all five New Zealand teams this year, starting with the Chiefs next weekend, and flyhalf Robert du Preez said preparations were already under way.

"Our training has changed a lot," Du Preez said. "Every Thursday we do what we call a 'Kiwi Day' just to prepare for them because we knew that they pose a different threat.

"We go hard at each other on Thursdays."

In the congested Africa 2 conference, the Golden Lions play the Coastal Sharks with both sides having one loss from five outings so far.

Argentina's Jaguares, with a similar record, have a bye and will drop down the ladder as a result.

In Australia, the ACT Brumbies also have a bye leaving the way open for the Waratahs and the Reds to challenge them for the top spot.

The remaining two matches see the Otago Highlanders play the Rebels in Dunedin on Friday, while the Auckland Blues host the Western Force on Saturday.