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Dan McKellar implies Leicester got hair dryer treatment at half-time vs Stormers

By PA
Press Association

Leicester Tigers head coach Dan McKellar was pleased to see his half-time words have an effect in the second half of his team’s 35-26 victory over the Stormers in the Investec Champions Cup.

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The visitors’ decision to leave most of their big-name players back in South Africa meant Leicester began the game as strong favourites, but they went into the break 17-10 behind.

It had been a flat performance by the hosts up to that point, but they were able to step up a level and 20 points from Springboks fly-half Handre Pollard went a long way to securing the win.

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McKellar said: “I don’t do it that often these days and it’s not about yelling and screaming, it’s about understanding we needed to shift in and around attitude and enthusiasm and effort areas.

“Someone’s going to drop a ball every now and then or throw a bad pass, I can live with that, but I can’t live with being out-enthused.

“We got some set-piece dominance, we kicked better, it was tough conditions out there.

“I know everyone wants to see us throwing the ball around and I thought again there were some good moments of really good passages and skill and good play, but we just executed our game plan.

“We managed to put them under pressure with our kicking game, through our defence and through our set-piece.

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“At this time of the year, that’s what’s going to win games.”

Solomone Kata scored the opening try for Leicester, but Keke Morabe and Courtnall Skosan both touched down to allow the Stormers to go into half-time ahead.

Although the visitors proved very hard to shake off, a second try from Kata along with scores by Pollard and Josh Bassett ensured the Tigers got the job done in the end.

Stormers head coach John Dobson said: “I’m thrilled with the effort and the physicality, all the stuff we wanted.

“We’re probably disappointed with the way we didn’t get anything out of it in the end.

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“It’s a bit curious because there’s so much pride for the performance – there’s a lock [Dylan Sjoblom] who arrived and joined us this week on Tuesday – but there’s disappointment not to get a point out of it.

“I’m not sure our best team would have done much better, but for the competition and for Leicester we’d like to be at full noise, so it is a pity.

“It’s so important for us to be part of this competition in South Africa, it means so much to us.

“It’s great that we fought. I think if we’d got rolled over 44-3, we would have been the side to have damaged the competition.

“You could see there was some talent in there.”

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Poorfour 4 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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