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Tanerau Latimer knows the
Chiefs need some "rocket fuel"
and he may be just the player
to provide the extra charge this
He will become the second
man to reach 100 games for the
Chiefs when the champs take on
the Crusaders in Hamilton on
Saturday, following close ally Liam
Messam into the record books.
Few members of the Chiefs
are as well-regarded internally as
Latimer and, if his team-mates
needed any additional incentive
ahead of another New Zealand
conference showdown, the sight
of the anker leading out his side
will provide just that.
at is, if Latimer starts. He has
continued his job-sharing role
with Sam Cane this season and,
in typically humble style, Latimer
was hardly about to let sentiment
in uence selection.
"Playing 100 Super Rugby games
is an achievement but doing it for
one franchise is something I will
look back on and be proud of," he
said. "But even if it means coming
o the bench, then I'll do my part
o the bench and I'd be happy
Given the capricious nature of
Dave Rennie's team selection,
there's no such thing as a sure
thing. Latimer will almost
certainly earn a spot in the run-on
XV, with Rennie unlikely to deny
the milestone moment to one of
his most loyal charges.
"He's a terri c man --- just the
heart and soul of this group,"
Rennie said. " e great thing
about him is he's a leader, so he's
prepared to wag the nger and
challenge but he'll also put his arm
around some of the young guys.
He's got that mix of leadership
and friendship --- they're quite
Another man to have attained
that balance is Messam, and it
will be tting for Latimer to
bring up his century alongside
his loose forward partner. e
two stalwarts are among the most
in uential players in the history
of the franchise and, while he
shrugged o the signi cance of a
round number, Latimer's pride was
clear in sharing the milestone with
"We've just been lucky enough to
stay injury-free and clock up the
games --- that's all it is. But the
thing I will most enjoy is looking
back one day and seeing my name
"He's a guy I've played a lot of
my rugby with and we're both
from Bay of Plenty, so that will be
one of the proudest things."
Latimer has just recently
received plaudits for his longevity,
having already reached 100 Super
Rugby games when accounting for
a brief stint with the Crusaders to
begin his career, but Rennie said
Latimer was reluctant to celebrate
the earlier mark.
"It's funny, he didn't want a
big deal made out of his 100th
because he feels this is more
important. It's a special day for
him and his family and I know the
boys will get up for it."
It would be appropriate if
Latimer's achievement becomes
the catalyst for the Chiefs to shake
o their struggles of recent weeks.
ough they have lost only one
game in the campaign, the Chiefs
still seem some way from reaching
Latimer, for one, believes the
next fortnight, bringing meetings
with the Crusaders and Brumbies,
can spur his side to top form.
" ey're two massive games," he
"We're simmering and we just
need a bit of rocket fuel to get us
going. We're only a game away
and once we get that going you'll
see this team really grow."
Previous clashes with the
Crusaders --- a thumping in
Christchurch aside --- have
brought out the best in the Chiefs
and Rennie was determined for
the same to happen on Saturday
"We're up for it," he said.
"Crusaders-Chiefs games have
been huge in the last couple of
years and, in Lats' 100th game for
the Chiefs, there are a number of
motivating factors for us to front."
Finding a quality centre is on the top of the
Warriors' shopping list after interim coach
Andrew McFadden admitted he was not
happy with the form of both Konrad Hurrell
and Dane Nielsen.
Hurrell has been dropped to the NSW
Cup side this weekend for a lack of e ort
on defence but McFadden says Nielsen also
needs to lift his game.
"No," McFadden said when asked if he was
happy with Nielsen's form. "But he's putting
in the e ort. I have spoken to Dane this week
and there are areas he needs to improve, as
there are for a lot of people. e pressure is
not just on Konrad and I'm certainly not
blaming him for the loss (to the Bulldogs)
in the weekend. e whole team is under
pressure to perform."
e Warriors have found it about as di cult
nding two good centres as they have a coach,
with Brent Tate and Jerome Ropati probably
the best duo they have had in the past decade.
It is a di cult position to play. Centres need
to make decisions, unlike some positions, and
need to be quick, strong defensively and with
ere are a paucity of good ones in the
NRL and the best are normally locked into
As many as 38 centres are o contract
at the end of the season, including Beau
Champion, Mahe Fonua, Justin Hodges,
George Jennings, Tautau Moga, Curtis Rona,
Tate and Jorge Taufua.
e Warriors attempted to entice Manly's
Peta Hiku to Mt Smart Stadium, reportedly
with an o er of $1 million over three years,
with the intention of turning him into a
centre. Hiku was Warriors under-20s Player
of the Year in 2012 before he was lured to
Sydney's northern beaches.
"We had a go," McFadden admitted. "We
had been chasing him for a while. I believe
he's re-signed with Manly.
(Finding a centre) could be a priority. It
depends on the centres here and whether
they put their hand up. It's been an issue at
the club, I believe, for a little while and we
need to do something about it. We need some
really rock solid... we need to feel comfortable
in our defensive line."
Nielsen survives at left centre with Ngani
Laumape moving in one position from
right wing to right centre this weekend. e
20-year-old is a similar build to Hurrell ---
he is slightly lighter at 97kg --- and is also
a strong ball runner but brings more energy
and security on defence.
"It's a pretty big opportunity for me," he
said. "I want to be a weekly player and have
been working hard on my game."
Ropati was a safe pair of hands but su ered
a broken jaw early in the season and it is hard
to see the club o ering the 29-year-old a new
deal given his struggles with injury over the
past three years.
Carlos Tuimavave has been tried but was
underwhelming and Ben Henry, Simon
Mannering, Elijah Taylor and Dominque
Peyroux have all had stints there over the past
couple of seasons as stop-gap measures.
Hurrell possesses the most talent and
potential but clearly needs to win the
con dence of McFadden.
"Konrad has obviously got a very good
o ensive game and brings a lot to the
team," McFadden said. "But he doesn't put
the same weight on defence. is is around
e ort. Konrad found some energy at the end
to nearly win us the game in attack but I
thought there were opportunities in the game
when he could have won it for us on defence
that he didn't take. It's as simple as that.
"It's not a new thing for Konrad, either.
He's obviously a very talented footballer and
he's got a lot to his game but we need the
whole package and this is just one of those
decisions I had to make to let the team know
we needed it across the board.
"'I believe he can x it pretty quickly if you
get your mindset right. at's what we are
working on as a club at the moment. Two
weeks ago we had half a team that didn't put
in that e ort. We can't have that. E ort has
got to be something that is non-negotiable.
at's why I made those decisions." --- APNZ
NRL Head of football Todd Greenberg
has issued a crackdown on players who put
opponents into dangerous positions --- but
says lifting tackles are here to stay.
e NRL called a snap media conference
yesterday, sparking speculation lifting
tackles would be rubbed out of the game
following the serious spinal injury to
Newcastle back-rower Alex McKinnon.
Instead, Greenberg announced the
match review committee (MRC) has been
ordered to sanction players who lift players
above the horizontal where there is threat
of injury to the head and neck.
e move follows the decision not to
charge Gold Coast hooker Beau Falloon
and St George Illawarra back-rower Joel
ompson earlier this month.
Falloon lifted Melbourne's Will
Chambers above the horizontal and
ompson did likewise to South Sydney's
However, because the pair were able
to use their arms to break their fall, no
charges were laid --- something that will
change under the new guidelines.
"We've spent the last two weeks assessing
the analytics of tackling across the game,"
"We've recalibrated with our match
review committee and what you will
see from this week is if a player is put in
a dangerous position, irrelevant of the
outcome, they can accept a charge.
"Over the rst six weeks, it was fair to
say there were a number of tackles that
weren't charged that we weren't happy
"If a player is put in a dangerous position
and, if by luck, he rolls out of that ... it's not
an excuse to escape a charge.
e issue of lifting tackles has
dominated the game since McKinnon's
sickening injury following a three-man
lifting tackle involving Melbourne trio
Jordan McLean and Kenny and Jesse
Bromwich. McLean picked up a seven-
match ban for the incident but his
team-mates were not charged.
Greenberg said under the new guidelines,
that could change but it would be too
di cult to take lifting tackles out of the
"Lifting tackles are here to stay," he said.
" ere are lots of lifting tackles in a game
that are clearly safe. A lot of people have
called for banning of three-man tackles.
at is not the answer. e answer is to
not put players in a dangerous position in
Club coaches have bemoaned a lack of
consistency from the NRL when it comes
Melbourne even took the step of
publicly questioning the decision not to
charge Falloon a week after McLean was
Greenberg said the new edict sent out to
clubs would clarify the situation in full.
" at's the message today, that there now
is clarity and consistency," he said.
"If players put players in a dangerous
position, then they will be charged. I
cannot make myself any clearer."
Latimer set for Chiefs ton
Tanerau Latimer on the burst.
NRL cracks down
on lifting tackle
Warriors off centre
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