Tackling ill-discipline head on
Sport24 columnist Francois Hougaard (File)
If the Bulls stand a chance of winning this year's Super Rugby competition, we need improve our discipline. I’ve heard lots of people say the Stormers shouldn’t have been awarded a penalty near the end of the game, but sometimes it goes your way and other times not.
The Stormers are a very good team and played well, but we left the field disappointed that we hadn’t made the most of our opportunities in the game. In the first half, we made too many mistakes, and our discipline let us down.
We let the disappointment of the narrow loss go after the game, and have worked hard this week in training on improving our discipline, because that’s where the penalties come from.
Emphasis this week has been on fine-tuning our game and doing the basics right. I don’t think coaches can teach players to be disciplined; I think it’s something the players have to sharpen in their own minds. Everyone has to look at themselves and take that extra step up.
I was disappointed in my own game against the Stormers. My game hasn’t been up to scratch.
There are many critics who say I shouldn’t be playing scrumhalf, but I am working very hard at all the aspects that make a top scrumhalf and believe I can only get better the more I play.
If you look for work, the wing can be just as fun as playing at scrumhalf, but if you stand on the wing and moan that you are not you are not getting any ball, it won’t work.
While you can’t run over other player’s lines, when I shift to the wing I go looking for work and try to get involved as much as I can.
As a team, I think that despite a few losses and niggling injuries, we have been doing pretty well. Everyone knows that we are a much different team this season, personnel-wise, but the exciting thing is that our destiny is in our own hands.
I think we are a very balanced side, as the stats show, and I believe that if we play to our ability we will be hard to stop. Sure, there are going to be setbacks in the season, but it’s not about how you get knocked down, but how you get up.
The Chiefs and Highlanders are the two sides that have impressed me early on. The Chiefs have always been a good side, but this season especially I think they are going to be hard to beat.
The Highlanders have also come out and impressed everyone, but for any side it’s not how you start, but how you maintain your challenge over the season.
Turning to another top New Zealand side - we are very excited ahead of our clash with the Crusaders this Saturday. It will be very tough, but we play rugby for the big games.
The Crusaders pose a different threat to what the Stormers did, but we are still going to play our own game.
We have to be alert on defence, as they are not scared to run the ball. We have to make sure we close down their space.
Everyone knows the Crusaders as a very dangerous attacking side - and are strong on the counter-attack. They are equally strong counter-ruckers.
They have a good tactical game, with Dan Carter back in the side. Morne and I are very excited for the halfback battle. Everyone knows that Carter is a brilliant player and so too is Andy Ellis with his tactical kicking game.
After a loss, people aren’t always positive and if they bump into you in the week, they tell you what you should have done better. My focus for Saturday is to concentrate on what I do well.
As players, we know our own abilities, and focus solely on the job at hand. We don’t read the newspapers or get involved in what people say in the week as it can only hurt our concentration.
There is a good vibe building amongst the players and supporters in Pretoria ahead of the big game this weekend.
Pierre Spies makes a very good leader, as he is calm and collected. There have been a few tight situations in games this season, and he has never panicked. He is a great guy that the players really look up to.
I do a bit of power boxing in the week, which helps with my conditioning, agility and reflexes. I don’t feel any stress before a big game, for me it’s more positive nerves and excitement. Francois Hougaard, educated at Paul Roos Gymnasium, is a regular for the Bulls and Springboks.
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