Determined to bounce back
Port Elizabeth - Our defeat to the Waratahs highlighted just how tough a competition
Super Rugby is. The reality is that there are no easy games. As a team, if you
are not fully switched on mentally and physically, you will be punished.
Sport24 columnist Ronnie Cooke (File)
Having spent five years in France, it’s interesting to compare the
standard of rugby. Super Rugby is played at an unrelenting pace whereas in
France, owing to the weather conditions, the game is a quite a bit slower.
There is no doubt that the tempo of the game and level of
competition in Super Rugby is far tougher. In the French Top 14there are a few
weaker teams which allows for key players to be rested, but in Super Rugby it’s
crucial to always be at full strength.
After our disappointing display against the men from Sydney, our
main theme this week is one of bouncing back. I believe that we are more than
capable of doing so as we are team with great character and resilience.
What makes being part of the current Southern Kings’ setup so special
is that we play for one another and there are no prima donnas in the side.
Certain aspects of rugby can be trained, but character comes from within.
As a team we are looking forward to righting the wrongs against the
Highlanders this Saturday.
Having defeated the Sharks, the Highlanders will arrive in South
Africa with their tails in the air. In my view, they are a really good side and
have had a run of bad luck this season.
The Highlanders– while yet to really click – will be a force to be
reckoned with. We are looking forward to our final match ahead of our bye week
and are determined to sign off on a positive note.
In order to do so, we will clearly have to sharpen up on defence -
that facet of play simply wasn’t up to scratch against the Waratahs.
We suffered some lapses in concentration and slips in our defensive
system, which cost us dearly. I believe that we need to cut down on our error-rate
and return to what works best for us.
As one of the senior players in the side, I’m enjoying the added responsibility.
It’s a role I relish because there are many guys in the team who are getting
their first experience of Super Rugby. I offer input and advice wherever I can.
Sergeal Petersen is a player I have been really impressed with this
season. At only 19, he has his whole rugby career in front of him. If he’s well
managed there is no reason to suggest he can’t become the next Bryan Habana.
As a backline, we will have to be switched on this Saturday, because
the Highlanders are a real threat with ball in hand. Their back three is potent
and fullback Ben Smith, in particular, is in fine form.
From the start, we knew that our debut Super Rugby season would be a
challenge, but it’s one we have embraced.
We are not outcome-driven but rather process-driven. We aim on
getting our basics right and believe that if we follow the correct processes
the results will take care of themselves.
We are certainly not going to lie down this weekend. We will be going
flat out and as players aim to leave everything out on the field. We will never
back down and will always give our best efforts.
As a proud South African, I want all our teams to do well, but at
this stage of the season it looks as though the Bulls are the SA team to beat.
Ronnie Cooke, an IRB Junior World Cup-winner in 2005,
first debuted in Super Rugby in 2006.
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