Southern Kings coach Robbie Kempson emphasised the importance of restoring their pride and giving their supporters something to smile about as they prepare to take the field in their last eight Pro14 matches of the season in the next three months.
It has been a challenging campaign for the Port Elizabeth outfit, with one win in 13 matches, but despite this Kempson said they were determined to finish the season on an encouraging note.
Fortunately for the team, six of their eight matches will be at home, and with their Eastern Cape support base being one of their main driving forces to turn to change their luck, they will have sufficient motivation.
“We have a three-week break now until our next game (against Edinburgh in Port Elizabeth on March 21) and after three tough games in a row the guys do need a break from rugby,” said Kempson.
“It is not just physically, they also need a break mentally.
“One of the areas we identified that needs work is conditioning, and there will be a big focus on that when the players come back from their break.
“In modern rugby even when the guys are off they are given programs that they need to follow.
“But there is a need for heavy conditioning so that will happen when the players return.”
Kempson gave a few young players a chance to get Pro14 exposure against Connacht last week, with the most notable being 18-year-old Tiaan Botes (flyhalf), who only completed school at Helpmekaar High School in Johannesburg a few months ago.
Another player who received an opportunity to make his mark was 23-year-old Siya Masuku (flyhalf) who started the match at the pivot, filling the void left by the experienced Demetri Catrakilis.
“You saw what we did with Tiaan and I thought it worked well,” said Kempson. “And we are going to do that with more players.
“We need to grow our depth so we will give more youngsters who are in our playing pool opportunities to show what they can do during the remainder of the season.”
This, however, will certainly not reduce their focus on working their way to the right side of the results column as the pool stages draw to a close.
“The most important thing is that we need to win,” said Kempson. “A lot of our supporters are angry, and understandably they have a crack at us, specifically me.
“Generally in modern rugby coaches don’t talk about the win, but the roles in the process, however, we can’t keep doing that.
“We need to impress upon our supporters that we are desperate to get that win for them.”
Southern Kings captain and lock JC Astle shared his coach’s sentiments saying: “We are very disappointed with the recent results.
“After coming back from another tough tour we desperately wanted to win in front of our home fans.
“We know the win is the only thing the crowd wants and we need that for the people who support us. A win is also what will help us mentally.”
In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo