OPINION: In a van on the way to his first Olympic 800 metres final in 1960, Peter Snell, deep in silent contemplation, was asked by another athlete what he was thinking about.
The 21-year-old, usually reticent to an almost painful degree, said: "I was just wondering if they'll run fast enough for me to break the Olympic record." They did, and he did.
Self belief, not to be confused with arrogance, will always be the key to victory in sport, and, after two successive losses, embedding it is now the main task over the next fortnight for the leadership group at the Chiefs.
Home advantage has almost certainly been lost, unless, in the early hours of this morning, the Rebels pulled off the biggest upset of the season against the Stormers. But not playing a home final doesn't mean the Chiefs can't still win the title.
There is one technical issue to be addressed. The horror lineout against the Crusaders was spotless against the Hurricanes, but the Chiefs' scrum was bullied, and at times overwhelmed, by the Canes.
That wasn't too important in Wellington on Friday night, in a game where in the parallel universe referee Jonathan Kaplan and his assistants seemed to be occupying, there was only a need for a lot of scrums in the last quarter.
In passing, we know weird things seem to happen around Sonny Bill Williams, but how deeply bizarre was the contrast between Ben May being binned for a legitimate tackle on Williams, and Williams not even being penalised for a throttle tackle on Cory Jane?
But scrums are largely a mechanical issue, and what's happening in the players' heads, and holding their nerve, is more important.
A trump card may well be Wayne Smith who, dare I say it of a rugby coach, is a man of some sensitivity, and he's had plenty of experience in judging the mood of a team.
He had, as an example, a feeling the Crusaders would score a massive upset win over the Blues in 1998 when a run in the car park of the team's Auckland city hotel on the morning of the game courted disaster, as the players darted round Saturday shoppers. "It was like taking out a team of kids who were so bloody excited to be there, and nervous at the same time. There were signs something good would happen."
Coach Dave Rennie, himself able to unite and inspire a side, has the perfect ally for that task in Smith.
MEANWHILE, the Crusaders are demonstrating the attitude that Wayne Smith started shaping 15 years ago. Some games have been lost this year by the Crusaders for what could only be called a slightly casual approach.
But when the Crusaders are firing there's a ruthless brilliance about the way they play, and it was the misfortune of the Force to be in their gunsights last night.
Whether it was the Franks brothers making wince-inducing tackles or hit ups, Richie McCaw doing a fair impression of a young Arnie in The Terminator, Andy Ellis reminding us all why he's the most unlucky man in the country to not still be in an All Black jersey, Dan Carter displaying yet again his ability to stay stunningly accurate under pressure, or Sean Maitland and Ryan Crotty cutting loose with Zac Guildford and Israel Dagg, there are signs the days of a Super title coming back to Christchurch may be far from over. In that icily aggressive mood, as Smith would know as well as anyone, they're a massive chance in knockout play.
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