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Jason Holland on mindset: 'You don't know they're a big moment until they've happened'

By Ned Lester
Du'Plessis Kirifi of the Hurricanes looks on during the round seven Super Rugby Pacific match between Highlanders and Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium, on April 08, 2023, in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Sports can be a cruel endeavour. Analyzing what leads a team to victory is a coach’s assignment and while an almighty difficult one, the great masterminds of our sport continue to implore that simplicity is key.

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The little moments, the one percenters are so frequently mentioned when discussing where a particular game was won and lost. Those winning plays become more and more critical towards the end of the season, which is exactly where we find ourselves in Super Rugby Pacific; on the cusp of the knock-out stages.

The final round of the regular season leaves us with much yet to be decided, notably who will make the top eight and who will secure home-field advantage in the quarter-finals.

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Preparing his side for a potentially pivotal clash with the defending champion Crusaders, Hurricanes head coach – and soon-to-be All Blacks assistant – Jason Holland was asked to break down how a team prepares to win the big moments.

“It sort of makes me laugh sometimes when people talk around the big moments,” Holland told The Platform. “Because you don’t actually know they’re a big moment until they’ve actually happened.

“The mindset needs to be ‘what’s my next job and how do I do that straight away and make sure that when I look back in the review I say that I nailed my job in that moment and that became a big moment for us’.

“So that’s how we look at it and it’s those little moments where you can score seven at the other end or the opposition scores, so there’s lots of those little moments.”

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With some experienced and inspirational leaders in the team like the returning Dane Coles and captain Ardie Savea, Holland has all the support he could ask for in implementing his mindset.

“We obviously need to teach and help boys understand around those moments but we’ve got some pretty good leaders who understand and really ramp it up coming this time of year. And ramping it up doesn’t mean doing more, or putting more into your game, it just means narrowing down on the one or two keys things that you think you need to do to win big games and our leaders are really understanding that and driving that at the moment, which is great.”

The Hurricanes currently sit fifth but have the potential to jump to fourth if they take down the Crusaders and the Brumbies fall to the Rebels. Either way, facing Australia’s top team in the quarter-finals is the likely outcome.

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Turlough 1 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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