Latham's love of rugby paves return for Global Tens
HE WAS regarded as one of the best fullbacks in rugby union.
In his prime, nothing could stop Narrabri-born star Chris Latham.
The Fraser Coast-based rugby legend will wind back the clock when he takes the field as Queensland Reds' wildcard at the Brisbane Global Tens.
The opportunity came about after a simple phone call from Reds coach Nick Stiles, who asked if the 41-year-old considered himself fit enough to play. and if he was interested.
It was an easy decision to make.
"I've always played rugby for the love of it, I love the sport,” Latham said.
"It's a game where age limits how long you can spend in the sport.
"When opportunities come up to put the boots on again and play it certainly is very attractive to get out there and play the game at a competitive rate.
"That's the only drive I need really.”
Latham's career included 127 Super Rugby caps for two clubs, but the decade he spent with the Reds (117 caps) made him one of the Sunshine State's favourite sons.
He was the first man to win four Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year awards, and scored 200 points in 78 games for the Wallabies.
At 41 he may be one of, if not the, oldest men to compete at the inaugural Suncorp Stadium event this weekend, but Latham is positive he can keep up with his younger opponents.
"I was of an okay standard fitness (when Stiles first rung) but after that I upped the ante a bit to make sure I'm of a good standard now,” Latham said.
Latham, who coaches NTT Docomo in Japan, is able to maintain a relatively high level of fitness by injecting himself into training games.
The benefits are two-fold.
Not only does he keep fit, but it has helped soothe the transition from full-time player to a man retired from the physical game.
"I miss playing, it's something that comes back to why you jump at the opportunity to play when it comes up,” Latham said. "You've got to come to terms with that.
"I've been fortunate to coach, be involved and still train.
"I often say I feel lucky I can still do that but not have the stiffness and soreness you get on the Sunday after the game. It's been an easier transition having the fact I can get into coaching.”