Bates Bullish about Loftus challenge




The Chiefs’ stand-in captain Steven Bates won’t have much time to savour his 50th Super rugby appearance, when he leads the team out against the Bulls in a Super 14 Round Four match in Pretoria on Saturday.

The 27-year-old Bates readily admits that it is “backs against the wall” stuff for his team, after having lost their first three matches – against the Brumbies, Hurricanes and Stormers.

Now they face a Bulls team who are also smarting from two defeats in three starts – including a shock loss to the Western Force last week – but still boasting a massive forward pack.

Speaking to the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA), Bates said the home defeat was not something the Bulls would take lightly.

“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 frontline players such as Sione Lauaki, Richard Kahui and Keith Robinson from the start of the season.

Others on the list include regular captain 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.”

365 Digital

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