No rest for Southern Kings
PRO14 SPOTLIGHT: The Cheetahs are enjoying some downtime as their Pro14 campaign takes a break over the Christmas period but for the Southern Kings the need for them to pick up some momentum means the next month will be business as usual.
The Kings next see action when they travel to Edinburgh on January 4 which means they have an opportunity for one of two things – they can either treat the next few weeks as a mini pre-season where they work on aspects of their game that require improvement, or they can recharge their batteries in preparation for what will be the business end of their season.
“It will definitely be a pre-season for us and not a break, we just can’t afford to take time off as the teams that we will be playing when we get back are going to be playing tough Champions Cup games as well as some very intense derbies during the time we are off. So we need to be match ready when we play them,” said Kings coach and director of rugby Robbi Kempson.
“I will be giving the guys off between December 20 and December 27 so that they can enjoy their Christmas, but in the meantime we have a lot of hard work to do. We need to do as much of our training as it is wise to do at match intensity so that we are not caught out when we return to action in January.
“I know the Cheetahs have taken a different view and are taking time off but they’ve had a very different workload from us. They came into the Pro14 off a Currie Cup campaign, and of course they experienced that big high of winning the Currie Cup. Right now it is more important that they rest. With us it is different.”
Even though the Kings lost the game, Kempson said he was happy with the way his team had acquitted themselves when they went to Galway to play Connacht in their last game before the five week break before the clash with Edinburgh.
“Connacht fielded their top side against us, it wasn’t an academy side that played against us as has occasionally been the case in the past, and I thought we were really competitive in the game,” he said.
“We have areas of our game that require attention and that is what we will be doing in the coming weeks. Apart from working on our intensity and tempo, our attack needs improving, and Swys de Bruyn over the next few weeks will be with us working on that two days a week instead of the one day a week that he has been present so far. It is not just our attack that has been identified as a work-on though. Our defence was very good against the Ospreys but I felt it took a bit of a step back against Connacht.”
As is so often the case with a young side that hasn’t played together over a long period of time, there are also soft moments that continue to blight the team and which, although understandable, continue to frustrate Kempson.
“That’s exactly it. We need to tidy up those moments where we let ourselves down if we are going to challenge for wins against the big teams,” said the former Springbok prop.
“The soft moments come down to inexperience. We need to limit what the opposition make of the eight or so opportunities they get in a game and maximise the maybe five chances we get. We need to be tighter and give less away. But that Connacht team we played against was a real team. They’ve been doing well this year, and I’d rate our performance against them as one of our best ever efforts overseas in the Pro14.
“It was a good gauge of where we are and while obviously we do have a lot to work on I think it was a step in the right direction for us.”
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