Setting high standards
Sport24 columnist Francois Hougaard (File)
While you can never be disappointed or cross after you earn a win, I think we can still play much better. There are plenty of areas of our game we can fix. If we eliminate our small mistakes and click, we will be a very dangerous side.
No team is perfect and all make their share of mistakes, but I felt we could have played a lot better against the Lions. I think it’s mostly about improving our basics - our off-the ball work and keeping to our structures when the game gets loose. We also need to try to outwork other sides each game.
I’m disappointed in my own game; I think I can play much better. For example if I kick five box kicks and make 60 passes, I want them to all be pinpoint. I’ll be happy when I’m playing well at a consistent level every weekend. I’m working hard on my kicking, passing and reading of the game. I am quite strict on myself in all aspects of my game.
We are a young side, so little mistakes are still creeping into our game. I think consistency comes with time. Our backline coach Pieter Rossouw has worked with us on off the ball work and direct running. It’s none of the flashy stuff just old school basics - so sadly no intercepts!
Some of the guys have had a few niggles this week, so today’s golf day will help everyone relax. Training has been very good this week and all the guys have been very disciplined. The guys have been getting in their physio appointments and massages this week; as everyone knows, it’s going to be a long season.
My body took a few knocks in the last game, but I’m feeling good and ready for the weekend. It’s about maintaining yourself physically through the season. Our conditioning coach, Basil Carzis has a very good strategy to the way we workout. He’s very good at what he does and does plenty of research. Everyone buys into his philosophy and works hard.
It’s been great having Victor (Matfield) come into our training each week. He picks up little mistakes that he sees from outside the camp and shares them with us. He been more involved with the forwards, but he adds an awesome vibe to training and seeing a legend like him gives all the guys such inspiration.
During the week, I do a lot of video work and attend one-on-one meetings with our various coaches. I analyse my game and that of the opponents I’m facing at the weekend. I always make sure I’m well prepared. Sometimes you play to structures and other times on instinct. So I try to balance the two.
The Brumbies are a very strong, well-balanced side. Jake White is a very good coach, so we can only expect a tough game this weekend.
Their scrumhalf is a nippy guy and they use a lot of possesional kicks like grubbers and chips. Christian Lealiifano is a very good attacking flyhalf and plays very flat. He’s a very dangerous player and is an equally good goalkicker.
Like every match, our discipline will be key this weekend, because if the get a chance to kick for posts they will. Like most of the Australian teams, they attack the breakdown well and are very direct. Every team offers something different, but we are not going to focus too much on them, but rather on what we want to do and make them adapt to our play.
I hear Morne Steyn’s come in for some criticism, but I don’t blame Morne for missing some goal kicks this season. Kicking for posts is very difficult - when you play away and get a crowd that’s against you it’s never easy, but it is his job. I think it’s a confidence thing at the moment. I’ve never seen any flyhalf train harder at kicking than Morne.
All my passing in the game won’t be 100%, not all players are perfect and sometimes a player goes through a dip. Maybe he’s getting the mistakes out early in the season, so that when it gets to the business end he’ll be 100%! I believe in Morne and while he’s made a few mistakes, he’ll still an amazing player and goalkicker.
The Stormers are a very good team and the SA conference battle will be very tight, but I don’t like to look too far into the future. I haven’t even started thinking of the tour and that’s in just over a week. I don’t follow the media or even look at the log. When it gets to the playoffs then we can look at permutations.
The Australian teams haven’t scored many bonus points wins, but I don’t believe we should underestimate any of their sides just because they have fewer points on the log. All the Australian teams are dangerous on their day. We are keeping our heads down and training hard.
Enjoy the game, and feel free to follow me on Twitter @Francoishougi
Francois Hougaard, educated at Paul Roos Gymnasium, is a regular for the Bulls and Springboks.
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