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Loffie's tips for young players

There are all these rumours and ongoing politics in South African rugby – in-fighting, back stabbing, negative media reporting, accusations of corruption, lack of sound leadership, lack of officials with integrity, no vision or workable plan, personnel in key positions with their own egos and agendas.

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The list carries on.

I have decided that I will focus on more positive things and maybe discus my opinion on the question that coaches and players most often ask me: "What must I do to become a top coach/player or Springbok.?"

However, before I go there, just a quick summary of the situation as it stands now in our lovely country.

What a great start of the second leg of Super Rugby, with the LIONS hitting the top spot on the rankings and the Stormers, who seem likely to be the other SA side that will secure home ground advantage in the quarterfinals. The Lions, if they keep on playing and winning as they have done, will be at home in the semifinals and Final as well.

I believe and hope this is the year of the boys in Johannesburg!

Unfortunately the Bulls, who have only a mathematic chance of catching the Stormers in the Africa One conference, and the Sharks (with no chance of catching the Lions in Africa Two) are in a race for the Africa wildcard spot.

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The Cheetahs and Kings playing for pride only, getting little reward for they endeavour this season.

Their coaches and administrators must show patience, as magic does not come overnight. (Don't hire and fire – get some continuity and then momentum will come)

American football (Gridiron) legend Lou Holtz said:

Good, Better, Best

Never Rest until

Good is better and better is BEST !

 

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As South African supporters we must get behind our teams in contention for the play-offs regardless of the province we support. We need a South African team to win the Super 18, or at least be in the semis and Final.

Administrators please don't set players and unions up for failure with political motivation, own agendas or bad decisions.

We have the best players in the world at schoolboy level. We can be the best at senior level as well, we just need to plan smart and execute that plan, if it is a workable one, that will take the sport as a whole forward and to the next level.

We can not lay all the blame for the mass exodus of coaches and players at the door of SARU. Fact is, there are better offers and opportunities out there – that is what professional sport is about, supply and demand.

 

However, we must nurture and protect our players and coaches.

Some matches in the Currie Cup qualifying competition have been pretty disappointing, but it is great to see a team like Boland doing well and Griquas performing as consistent as ever in that league.

I asked myself the question: 'Why would a so called small union want to play in the Premier league and why must Griquas qualify to play there every year?

Is it for a bigger cash injection from SARU, publicity and exposure on TV, or do they really think they can compete against the big unions and perhaps win the Currie Cup? (Big unions will have their full squads after the completion of Super Rugby and International duties).

Just some food for thought.

As I indicated I often get asked the question from players (parents and coaches): 'What must or can I do to become an better player, make it into a top side, play Super rugby and maybe become a Springbok?

Well it's not an easy road, but if you really want it badly, it's out there – go get it.

You can't be average and expect things to happen. You have to do more to get the competitive edge over your opponent or contenders for your position.

In my career as a coach I have seen players with all the talent in the world not working very hard and expecting things would just happen and fall in place. As always, and before you know it, the guy with less talent, but desire and working much harder, overtakes the talented player and go all the way.

Here is, in my opinion, where to start the process/journey.

I talk about the three basic steps to become a top player (sounds like that pop song of the 1970s: 'Three steps to heaven.')

STEPS TO BECOME A TOP RUGBY PLAYER

1. Be BRUTALLY honest with yourself

* Who you are?

* What are your strengths & weakness?

* What do you stand for?

(Focus more on your positives and the negatives eventually fade away)

2. PLAN your career

* Set goals (realistic in a timeframe)

* Identify key performance areas & indicators

* Often measure yourself

(Fail to plan & fail to perform or achieve your goals)

3. TRAIN-TRAIN-TRAIN

* Get physically conditioned for your position

* Ensure that you have all the skills that your position requires

* Mental preparation just as important (mental toughness)

(The harder you train, the harder you surrender)

TIPS

* Balance in activities (train/social/academics)

* Often change sequences (don't be stereotype)

* Eat right and sleep enough (recover)

* Spoil & compliment yourself as goals are achieved

* Most of all, have FUN in your journey

With my time running out in South Africa before I head for the United States, I am still a Lions and Springbok supporter and will always be, my roots are here, regardless the current situation.

We have a great country with great players, coaches and administrators.

Let's get our ducks in a row, get the right people in place support the national coach and take rugby to the next level and World Cup.

We have the young boys (talent) to do that, we have no excuse.

By Eugene Eloff

@LoffieEloff

@rugby365com

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