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Latimer on road to redemption

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Sportal.co.nz     03 Aug 2012     Getty Images

Memories of the 61-17 hammering received at the hands of the Bulls in 2009, the only other occasion the Chiefs have played in a final, burn deep.

Latimer said he could equate to the notion of other sportsmen who had suffered harrowing defeat when they said the memories consigned them to sleeping on pillows of rocks as they thought about the defeat.

"It's a dark past," he said of 2009. "I guess if we want to enjoy the summer we're going to have to make amends for it."

The matter had been raised by coach Dave Rennie early in the week's preparation with those who took part being asked to describe their experiences to their newer team-mates.

Latimer said that with reflection the side had been happy just to be in the final in 2009 and were happy to consider being there an accomplishment in itself.

It had been a 'childish' response, he said, and the reason some teams were able to win championships consistently was because they had players who could stand up in those situations.

"But we've got a goal this year, to win our first Super title, and we are only a step away," he said.

While the Chiefs would have been happy to travel to Durban, or Cape Town, for the final, Latimer said taking the travel out of the equation meant the weariness wasn't a factor for them.

"There'll be no excuses for not getting up this weekend," he said.

"We just had to get up in their faces. You hear it all the time, but that was the key and you look at several of our tackles and we got them behind the advantage line and managed to turn them over and a couple of them resulted in tries so that is going to be the key again this week."

Reducing the impact of the big Sharks pack would be crucial for the Chiefs.

"You can't wrestle with these guys because they are stronger than you. You've got to chop 'em low and get people in there who are going to be menacing and over the ball and slow their pill up," he said.

The sheer enjoyment of the Chiefs squad this year had helped considerably. Winning, consistently, was a factor and so was the method of play. More ownership from the players and the accompanying accountability had heightened the involvement.

"If you make a decision then you make sure it is right," he said.

The two losses suffered after the team came back from the international break had not been too much of a concern because the players knew they were capable of playing better.

"It was just a matter of getting back to how we played last week [against the Crusaders]," he said.