Gatland told The New Zealand Herald: "The feeling among everyone was 'let's just keep trucking along, we're not far away'.
"The bottom line is we need a win, because with that comes a little bit of confidence and self-belief."
Gatland, who led Waikato to the national championship last year, was also expecting Tasesa Lavea to support fly-half Stephen Donald in a new-look outside half pairing.
He said: "They've looked quite nice training together this week. We're just looking for a bit more experience in the backline and Tasesa brings that."
Head coach Ian Foster also recalled Brendan Leonard for Jamie Nutbrown at half-back and Kristian Ormsby comes in at lock for Toby Lynn.
The Lions fell to sixth in the table and coming off their mauling at Eden Park.
Jaco van Schalkwyk replaces Earl Rose at full-back and winger Wylie Human steps in for Doppies La Grange, prompting Jaco Pretorius to move to centre.
Jano Vermaak replaces Springbok scrum-half Enrico Januarie and Willem Alberts comes in for lock Cobus Grobler.