What needs to change – People need to do their jobs for a full 80 minutes

That is the harsh assessment of Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, after a disappointing home loss at the weekend. Macclesfield Blues had the home advantage at Priory Park, but failed to capitalise on this despite a promising opening 30 minute spell. Tynedale proved too tough in the end, though the score was hardly an accurate reflection of the game overall. Macclesfield Blues had plenty of other chances to score, but failed to take them. That in Giles’ view is partly down to confidence, and partly down to losing focus and concentration. He’s expecting a much better performance when the Blues travel down to take on Ealing Trailfinders. He is only too well aware that if the players lose concentration against the league leaders this weekend, they could be on the end of a high score. So his message to the players is simple: do your jobs, and do it for the full 80 minutes.

The record so far this season is played 6 lost 6. What, if anything, needs to change?

“Well, naturally we could do with a little bit of luck for starters. Having said that I’ve always been a great believer in the philosophy that says the harder you work, the luckier you get. Yes I know that’s a bit trite, but I do think that’s still the truth. I suppose if we need to change anything, it has to be our concentration levels. I think if we could maintain focus and concentration for longer periods that would make a significant difference to our fortunes. National 1 rugby is ruthlessly unforgiving, so you really can’t afford to lose focus or make a mistake. If you do then you’ll get punished and concede 7 points. We had periods where we’ve played well and retained focus, but we haven’t been able to sustain that. That’s what we need to change.”

“I guess the message has already got through to the players – well, to a degree at least – but we still need to apply that lesson more frequently. The danger that faces the team, having played 6 and lost 6, is that you become tense when you’re playing and that compromises your skill levels and decision making. Players tend to do things that wouldn’t normally do because they feel they need to force matters. But that is self-defeating. What we need to do is stick to what we do well, and retain concentration in both our attacking and defensive sets if we want to create opportunities to score. We had a number of scoring opportunities against Tynedale, but we didn’t convert them. We certainly had 3 clear line breaks during the first 20 minutes that we failed to capitalise on. When your set piece malfunctions 5 times in a row, that generally indicates a degree of pressure, which I feel was largely self-inflicted. As soon as you start thinking we’ve got a really good attacking platform which we can’t afford to mess up, you tend to do the opposite and squander the opportunity.”

How do you see your role as Head Coach?

“Obviously my role is to encourage the players to fulfil their potential, and reassure them that they have the necessary skills and experience to succeed at this level. However, there’s only so much I can do. There comes a point on match days where my sphere of influence is severely restricted. We can work hard together on Tuesdays and Thursdays on skills, and I can give them knowledge and encouragement prior to the game, but once the whistle blows my role is minimal. Obviously I can make observations during the game and try to get that information across to the decision makers on the field, but it’s up to the players to put that information to best use. As a control freak I find this very frustrating, but it is what it is.”

Will playing the league leaders, Ealing Trailfinders, be a help of hindrance to the Macclesfield Blues’ cause?

“I don’t think it makes a difference; after all this is National 1. This league isn’t like National 2 where you afford to have an off day against a mid-level team. There are no mid-level teams in this league. Everyone is capable of pulling out a result against any opposition. If you’re not on your game every game you’ll come unstuck. Ealing will be a difficult game for us, make no bones. You’re talking about a full time squad with a million pound budget, so we’re under no illusion about the challenge we face. Having said that I don’t think the size of the task will affect the players’ confidence. They know they just have to accept reality and get on with it. We’ll be playing a top quality side that’s on a roll, so we know what to expect. We just have to remain focused and do our job for a full 80 minutes.”

“We’ve not managed to do this yet, and that harks back to your original question about what can we do better. The honest answer is people need to do their jobs for 80 minutes. Against Darlington we played for 40 minutes, against Tynedale we probably played for 30, against Richmond we played for 60. We just haven’t put together a full 80 minute performance, and the harsh reality is if we don’t do it on Saturday at Ealing we could be on the end of a high scoring affair. None the less we are travelling down their confident we can get something out of the game, particularly as we’ll be playing on a 3G pitch which will suit our playing style.”

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