Toyota Cheetahs captain Tian Meyer believes the pressure is on his side ahead of this weekend’s PRO14 Rugby derby against the Isuzu Southern Kings to return to the standards they have set themselves as a team.
The Cheetahs last outing in PRO14 was a poor one by their own standards, as they slumped to a 41-13 defeat at the hands of Italian side Zebre, something that sent shockwaves through the side in their hope to make the playoff rounds of this year in the Championship.
Combined with the renewed confidence the Kings took out of their win over the DHL Stormers last Friday night in Knysna, and a fixture that has traditionally been close in Port Elizabeth, the Bloemfontein side need to up their own play if they are to keep their aspirations on track.
Meyer believes the side were “terrible” in the Zebre game and will need to take a massive step up this weekend.
“It doesn’t matter if you performed well or badly in the previous game, each week will be a challenge. You can’t rest on your laurels and take any game for granted,” he said.
“We were terrible in the last game and we were very hard on ourselves. We trained hard the last two weeks and mentally we are trying to take a step up to put out a better performance than last time.”
Meyer said the team had an “honest talk” and only they can answer the lingering doubts the Zebre defeat brought to the surface.
“We were very hard on each other. There were a lot of stones thrown from outside on the performance but we took it very personally. It never looked like us on the field. We needed to stand up as brothers in the team and answer if we were up to our own standards in the game and the frank answer is that we didn’t. We will stand up and in the next games we want to rectify it.
“It is a derby game and whatever happened against Zebre, we would have approached this game in the same way. Our previous games in the PRO14 have been close and we expect the same on Saturday. I feel the pressure will be on us, and we can just do the best that we can. If we can play the game we want to play, it will go well.”
While being back on the harder, faster fields in South Africa will aid their game, Meyer underlined the fact that individual brilliance can’t be their only asset. Somewhere the hard work will need to be done in order to break down the Kings’ defensive structures.
“It is definitely a balance that is needed. It can’t just be individual brilliance or waiting for someone to spark it. That is why there are players out there that are doing the hard graft and sometimes you need to do the things to put someone else into space. You need to work hard for those little moments.
“I find not just Super Rugby, but in the PRO14 there are those small moments that make the changes in the game. It is flair that changes it but it doesn’t just come by itself. It comes after phases and later in the game. You have to be sharp and get the balance right.”
And discipline will be a key factor this weekend, with the Cheetahs hoping to not hamper themselves by giving away easy points to the opposition.
“The way we manage those things. It is something we spoke of, just silly penalties. We don’t want to give excuses. The ref will make his call, but we will try to the best of our ability to do well. High tackles and silly penalties are things you can control and we will look to that. You can’t bargain on the Kings getting cards just because of history. If it happens, it happens and we will deal with it, but we will the best from our side to keep the game clean and disciplined.”
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