The Scarlets squad travelled from their base in Durban to Pretoria today ahead of Friday’s rescheduled United Rugby Championship clash with the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
Before they left, head coach Dwayne Peel spoke to the media, reflecting on the spirited loss to the Sharks and the challenge ahead.
Dwayne, how has your stay in Durban been?
DP: “We have had a great welcome, great hospitality in Durban, the boys have enjoyed themselves, trained hard and the weather has been on our side as well. Obviously, we are disappointed with the result on Friday night; I thought the effort and commitment was right up there, but we weren’t clinical enough in that first 30 minutes, we could have been further ahead at half-time, then a few errors and ill-discipline cost us in the second half.”
How do you reflect on that Sharks defeat?
DP: “What pleased me after the game was the disappointment for everyone that we let one slip. It wasn’t a case of, ‘we run a Sharks side full of Springboks close’, it wasn’t about that, it was disappointment we didn’t win the game and that bodes well for us, especially for our younger guys because they are starting to understand what it takes at this level and they thoroughly enjoyed and gave a good account of themselves.”
How have you adapted training with the different weather conditions in South Africa?
DP: “We have enjoyed it to be honest, the fact the sun is out! You have to understand what it is, not so much adapting but working through it. I know the boys felt it was hot and humid, but it beats playing in the rain. It’s not been overly difficult for us.”
How are you injury-wise?
DP: “We have picked up a few bumps which we are monitoring, we will make a few calls on a couple of boys on Wednesday, but overall we are not looking too bad. We have a few boys coming back this week which will be good for us. Rhys Patchell and Ryan Conbeer have been in training and if available they will be in the mix for selection, they have looked good so it will be good to have them back in the squad.”
What are you expecting from the Bulls?
DP: “They are obviously a quality side, a lot of internationals, a big physical pack. We talked last week that physicality is non-negotiable in South Africa, that is a starting point for us. We have to match that physicality and they have some fast backs who are clinical when they get opportunities. It is about matching that physicality, not kicking loosely and also being excited when we have the ball as well. We saw glimpses last week of some really good stuff when we have the ball, if we can finish a few of those off we will be happy.”
Are you confident you are moving in the right direction?
DP: “The confidence for us is that the boys have bought into it and we can see week to week we are getting better. At the start of the season, we were a bit mixed, some good stuff, some not so good stuff, over the last five or six weeks we are starting to see consistency and that comes from playing games week in week out. That Christmas period was very difficult for us because of the breaks of play. For us, getting that consistency will be good and we will see where we are at the end of the season.”