Seven Chiefs prepare to revisit nightmare

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James Mortimer     31 Jul 2012     Getty Images

Five players – Craig Clarke, Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer, Sona Taumalolo and Lelia Masaga – were in the starting XV from the game, while Hika Elliot was on the bench.

Injured Chiefs centre Richard Kahui also started in the midfield on the 30 May that year, when the Bulls added title number two to their cabinet in Pretoria.

Clarke, who is battling a knee injury, isn’t a certainty to play this weekend to guide his team to a potential maiden title, with both finalists previous representatives in a decider without success.

For the Chiefs, it was in 2009, for the Sharks this will be their fourth Super Rugby Final (1996, 2001 and 2007), with this their third away from home.

At least this time the Chiefs will play in front of home support, usually a common denominator for successful Super Rugby champions, and the Waikato based franchise will spend the entire week in their beds, while it was back in early May that the side last travelled overseas (to Brisbane in round 12).

The Sharks, 26-19 victors over the Stormers, not only have to contend with the fact it was a typically physical South African derby match, but also a long haul that will put them at a disadvantage no matter how well their travel plans are organised.

The Sharks might have played their last eight regular season matches in the Republic, including six at Mr Price King’s Park in Durban, but by the time they touch down in Hamilton via Sydney, they will have clocked up over 30,000km since the Super Rugby Finals Series began.

While Lambie has been included in the Sharks touring squad, the departing group is limited, while the Chiefs will have the luxury of training with their full squad in the buildup to the Final.

It will be a vastly different preparation for the Chiefs, who admitted they had perhaps celebrated a bit too much after beating the Hurricanes in 2009 to progress to their inaugural decider.

This year, the Chiefs have said there is still plenty to be achieved, as they look to lay to bed the nightmares of four years ago.