Fueled by memories of past playoff opportunities missed and, most recently, their loss to the Reds in New Plymouth, the Chiefs are well prepared for Saturday's Super Rugby Pacific quarterfinal in Hamilton.

Coach Clayton McMillan was confident the cohesion the side's combinations have developed during the season would help ensure they were on the right side of the small moments that could define outcomes in finals rugby.

"You hope that cohesion tips the balance of those small moments in your favour."

They had taken lessons from their loss to the Reds in New Plymouth. The result had kept the Reds in the playoffs race; they were well disciplined.

"On the night, they didn't give a lot of penalties away to give us easy access into their half. They got an extra five or 10 metres on their kicking game than what we achieved, which in the conditions down there was beneficial.

"We don't anticipate a lot changing, they'll want to be going up another cog. Our challenge is to make sure we do that too."

McMillan said they would not be unleashing drastic changes in how they played. Any changes would be subtle because it was no time to experiment or reinvent the wheel.

"For us, it's around doing the things we know that when we get them right, our carry-clean game, getting a good balance with our kicking game, being strong at the set-piece. If we do those things well, then we give ourselves a chance, and it's just about nailing those small moments.

"Every team, each week, has variations in their attack and maybe in their defence just to keep your opposition on edge," he said.

Co-captain and halfback Brad Weber said the playoffs were like a new season starting, especially knowing that if you lose, your season was complete.

He said the Chiefs had a lot to prove after going down to the Reds last time.

"We can't just throw the ball around and expect things to happen; we need to work for it. The feeling in the camp is we tried too hard individually [in their loss to the Reds] and went away from a lot of our game plan that's been working for us all year.

"That's the sort of thing that will come out this weekend."

While having been in playoff situations in recent years, it was understood that to win the competition, they had to convert more opportunities than they had in their past chances.

Weber said opposing halfback Tate McDermott was one of the best snipers around the ruck in the game, and since missing the Wallabies squad, he had been on fire.

"He's a guy that you have to be on your toes at all the time. I'm going to have to make sure the guys in and around the ruck are doing the right job so I don't have to do too much covering. I'm a big fan of his game. He's a very Australian halfback, him and Nic White are very similar."

The Reds have moved James O'Connor to second five-eighths for the game, with Tom Lynagh starting at first five-eighths. Second five-eighths Hunter Paisami won't play because of a knee injury, with Filipo Daugunu playing at centre.