Going down to 14 men might be forgivable: but going down to 13 men is bordering on the criminal.

After 10 straight defeats, no one in the Macclesfield Blues squad is under any illusion about the enormity of the task that faces the team during the remainder of the season. Difficult questions have been asked, and answers have been demanded. Questions like why aren’t the team performing as well as we know they can, what can the team do to turn the season around and what needs to change if the team is to make progress? There have also been some suggestions that to get results the team needs to focus more on discipline and defence, and that they need to build their levels of confidence and have a greater sense of self-belief. But what does Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, think of these suggestions? What does he think will improve Macclesfield Blues’ season for the better? Here’s what Giles told Macclesfield Rugby earlier this week.

Discipline

“I certainly agree that discipline is important for us if we are to change our fortunes. There’s no doubt that the score on Saturday was impacted by the two sin-binnings. One of them was for a second team infringement, although one of these had happened in the first half, so the referee clearly had a good memory. The other sin-binning was simply down to stupidity. I think the biggest thing we need to do over the next 5 to 6 weeks is improve our decision making. I know that may sound like a fairly broad and sweeping statement, but it’s still an issue that needs to be addressed. We have to cut out sin-binnings for deliberate knock-ons, and we have to learn to look after the ball better. We conceded a try to Rosslyn Park in literally the last play of the game because we looked to force a pass that simply wasn’t on. If we’d just kept hold of the ball and maintained possession we probably would’ve score ourselves. We have to work harder at making more positive decisions.”

Defence

“I actually think our defence is pretty good. Now it might not look like it, given our league position, but when you are defending relentlessly against good teams like Rosslyn Park, who are second in the league, it’s tiring. It really is bloody hard work and it takes its toll. Never the less, I think we’re pretty well organised. We’ve put a new defensive system in place and the players have all bought into that. Our plan was working well enough, and up to the sin-binnings we were well and truly in Saturday’s game. All we need to do is keep working on our new defensive system and it will continue to improve.

Self-belief

“I don’t think the self-belief across the group can be questioned. That’s not arrogance: it’s more that we have a confidence in what we are trying to do. We all know that when it clicks properly somebody is on for a tough day at the office. Someone said to me the other day, that one day you are going to mess up someone’s season. That’s a sentiment everyone in the team agrees with. We have the capability to do that, and all we need is just one good performance to prove it. Hopefully that will come against Loughborough Students on Saturday.”

Confidence and determination

“In spite of Saturday’s disappointment at Rosslyn Park, we are still confident that we have what it takes to turn the season around. We felt we should’ve got more out of it, but we were frustrated that we let our opportunities slip away. Going down to 14 men might be forgivable: but going down to 13 men is bordering on the criminal. We just have to stop slitting our own throats – that’s nothing to do with confidence. To address these failings we’re going to add a couple more things to our game plan. That will increase the players’ options, and when you increase the options it makes it easier for players to make decisions.”

“No one in the squad is under any illusions about the importance of the next 5 or 6 games, but at the same time we don’t want to put ourselves under too much pressure. When people are put under pressure they do stupid things: by that I mean out-of-the-ordinary things that affect performance. So mentally we’ll have to address this problem and relieve some of this pressure, and that should go some way to helping us deal with our current predicament.”


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