An already battered Chiefs outfit have lost more front-line players - and leadership - as they consider their line-up to face the Sharks on Saturday.
Coach Colin Cooper has had to dip into his development squad to cover the forward positions, with Michael Allardice and Lachlan Boshier ruled out of this week's Super Rugby round with injuries.
The Hamilton-based team have already lost All Blacks Brodie Retallick and Damian McKenzie for extended periods, with international flanker Sam Cane still battling back to fitness, after suffering a fractured neck last October.
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As the body count has mounted, Allardice and Boshier have become key contributors to a plucky Chiefs effort, which saw them fight back for a 31-31 draw against the Highlanders last week. Allardice has even captained the side on occasion.
The Chiefs currently sit at the bottom of the New Zealand conference and ahead of only the Sunwolves overall, but just six points off a playoff spot.
"It's a pretty unforgiving stage," says Cooper. "There's a whole lot of things - if you haven't prepared well, haven't got good communication, haven't got your main players, which builds confidence.
"We've had a tough season, but we're pretty proud of the way we hung in there down in Dunedin on the weekend."
To keep their hopes alive, the Chiefs must overcome their injuries and string together some wins, starting at home against the South Africans this week.
"This team can do that," insists Cooper. "The fight with this group is still strong and well led by the leaders.
"I don't think most teams would like to play the Chiefs, even though we're pretty banged up at the moment."
Join us at 7:30pm Saturday for live updates of the Chiefs v Sharks Super Rugby clash