Ian Jones: 'Belief Chiefs' must be the home side's mantra

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Fans will help by urging the Chiefs on but they cannot win the game for their team. Photo / Christine Cornege
Fans will help by urging the Chiefs on but they cannot win the game for their team. Photo / Christine Cornege

Let's get one thing straight - home advantage (although historically significant with 12 of the 16 Super Rugby winners coming from the host franchise) will not win it for the Chiefs tomorrow night in Hamilton.

Sure, the sellout crowd will play their part and the fans will need to be involved in every minute of the game, but it is the players themselves who must ultimately deliver the goods.

No one else can do it for them.

This is a very good Chiefs side, but like any team heading into a final, they need to overcome challenges before and during this match if they want to be crowned the champs.

Challenge number one: apart from this being a wonderful Sharks side who are well drilled, well balanced and deserve their place in this final, it is the Chiefs' ability to handle the favourites tag that has been thrust upon them.

This is new ground for this organisation who even went into last week's home semifinal against the Crusaders as the underdogs. With this favouritism tag will also come high expectations. How the players handle those expectations, both in the build up and during the game, may decide the outcome of this final.

Challenge number two is another mental one, as they look to find that knife edge of emotion that got them home in a thriller seven days ago.

Last Friday night it was a do or die, winner take all game and the Chiefs played with a real hunger and desperation. Standing sideline, you sensed they had an "I want this more" attitude.

Lose tomorrow night and while you still get that gut-wrenching pain of disappointment, and you as a team don't get to fight that other day, other people and this tournament will move on as attention quickly turns to other matters in the rugby world.

At least you don't still have to go through the frustration of watching two teams play in a final where you could have been.

Not nice.

What we are looking for is the attitude of passion and urgency with a clear head from the Chiefs - a quote I loved for this was "first with the head then the heart". You need to be clear in your role out on the paddock first, but driven with an intensity and passion your opposite can't match.

The players will need to find this themselves, then have a real focus on doing their jobs, trusting the other 14 men to do the same. Then we will get the outcome this franchise desires.

Belief Chiefs - it is a powerful tool and the final piece of the jigsaw to finish this 2012 season. Believe.

- NZ Herald

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