Well first off I have to say that I am immensely proud of the boys after yesterday’s game, they played with passion , together with complete commitment and determination, the like of which I know the team has not produced for a very long time.
To see the boys pull off a win even after Joel our loosehead prop, got injured after the 2nd min was immensly satisfying. I’m sure after Joel went off a few of the boys on the field as well as myself thought that by losing Joel it would be detrimental to the teams game plan and therefore chances of winning the match. However these fears were soon proved unfounded when Brett took to the field, it was such a huge psychological boost to the team when they saw the scrum was not in anyway depowered. I am almost certain that had Brett not given it his all, the team would have had a much more difficult morning than they encountered yesterday. What impressed me the most was the way the team just got on with the business of playing the match and not worrying about things out of their control. This proves to me that this team is on an upward curve, so focused on achieving success that nothing will stand in their way towards achieving their goals.
As coaches we can only say so much and do so much, so when a team collectively stands up and raises their performance each week, it leaves me with no doubt in my mind that this team is going places. They have decided what success means to them and at the moment I am positive they are on the right path. I can see a spirit in this team, one that has not been there before, and I trust they want to keep their team on the right track, because at the end of the day it’s their team, and they are there to have fun.
I was extremely impressed at the amount of standout performances there were yesterday. Each and every player upped their game in some way or another, and this just shows that this team is on a journey, one that will take time, but a journey that is at least taking them to levels they have not experienced as of yet. For me this is helluva exciting, watching each individual player get better every week, as well as the team as a whole developing into a formidable unit. It’s a process but one that is already bearing fruit, given time they can take this team anywhere they want. As I have said, it’s their team, and no one else’s.
I thought that all the players upped their game in one way or another, but there were a few standout performances that I must mention…
The first player that must be mentioned has to be the man of the match, Zubair Ajam. He really upped his game to such a height that I think the other players will have to work extremely hard to surpass. His goal kicking was phenomenal, I cannot even begin to describe how amazingly perfect they were, he kicked all 12 of the teams points and really ensured the team was rewarded for their efforts. As well as his kicking, his distribution to Jason was vastly improved to last weeks, as was his communication. This proves why he is in the team, and I can only challenge him to up his game like this every week. it can be done, because he has the ability.
Buck has got to be mentioned, for the last two games he has really tried extremely hard, popping up all over the field looking for work, and joining the line at pace. His runs on the wing were very good and his kicking was not bad either. But he and I know that he can kick further, the team need it and I want it. It’s his challenge, but one that I know he is more than capable of.
I was impressed with how Struan has improved over the last week, his throwing was spot on yesterday, which means he has been putting a lot of work in to correct his shortcomings. To improve so well in a week, shows he is committed to the team and determined to stay there. For that I admire him, he has a lot more work to do, but if he carries on the way he is going, he can become one good hooker, and a player the team cannot do without.
Another player who has transformed his game this weekend was Brandon, apart from his exceptional scrumming, he has not played as well as I know he can, but after this game he has now begun his journey towards becoming the complete prop. His ball carrying was very good, and some measure of aggression was seen, his challenge now is to keep this upward curve going as I know he can become one seriously good prop.
Logan and Justin produced their usual superb pressure game,, Justin’s lineout’s were good, and Logan tried hard all game as is customary from him.
Jason was another player who improved his game as well, running from depth for the first time and as such making an impact. he still has a way to go towards becoming a very good centre, but after yesterday he has at least started his journey. Centre is a difficult position and takes along time to learn, but he did well and I am waiting for him to make the sort of impact I know he can make… I think it’s only a matter of time.
And then there was Shane, a new scrumhalf, who has not had much time to get used to the position, but in the time he has had, he has improved every week. Yesterday was no different, his passing was a huge improvement to last weeks game and his calmness was reflected in the way the forwards played. As time goes on he will develop into a very good scrumhalf, but it will take a lot more hard work to get there, but I know he wants success, and will give it his everything to get there.
The rest of the backline did well, Jono passed very well and got the backline moving nicely, he still has a lot of work to do, but with hard work he has the potential to make the position his own.
The last performance I’d like to mention is Ruairi’s. He has captained the side extremely well so far, his calmness on the field ensures the team remain calm even under pressure, while his decision making has improved 10 fold from last week’s game. I can also not forget to mention he made the most superb try saving tackle I have ever seen, coming from far behind, he caught the breakaway runner and munched his soul… unfortunately for him, I now know what he is capable of and he has no choice but to replicate that kind of heroics every week from now on.
The other’s I have not mentioned did not play badly, the wings never got the ball in enough space to cause mayhem, but when they did get the ball I was slightly disapointed, they are better than that, and I expect a better performance from them.
The lock pairing of Horse and Andrew is doing well, especially in the scrums. They are getting better every week, but I know they have not produced their best yet, they are there because I know what they can produce, but at the moment they are playing well below their potential. They know this and i’m sure they want to prove themselves this weekend, the team needs them to perform at their best, and I have no doubt in my mind that will produce it.
So again I am happy with the progress they are making, but I must caution that the team has a lot of hard work ahead in order to keep this upward curve going, complacency just cannot happen from the coaches side or from the team. Every practice, every match is a step towards achieving the teams goals, I like what I am seeing so far from the team at practices, but I want more. More intensity, more focus, more commitment, more teamwork… The more you put in the more you get out.
We have a huge couple of weeks ahead of us, and i’m positive the team will embrace these challenges ahead with cool confidence, utter determination, confidence within yourself, your team and the gameplan. The more belief the team has, the more fun they will have in meeting those challenges head on.
Let’s hope this team stands back for no-one, and no team.