Kings backing themselves

Fri, 12 Apr 2013 08:25
Large bandise maku media Large steven sykes kings training Large matt sexton media2 Large bandise maku line out Large andries strauss and steven

The Kings will not fall into the complacency trap when they face the Rebels on Saturday, but they are backing themselves to win.

The Southern Kings will not fall into the complacency trap when they face the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday, but they are backing themselves to win.

Speaking to this website ahead of their final Australasian tour match, before returning home for an encounter with the Bulls, Kings coach Matt Sexton said although the players are battered and bruised, they are "mentally fresh" after last week's amazing draw with the then table-topping Brumbies.

"The tour has been pretty tough," he said, adding: "We are now in our second week in Australia and the guys are in the right time zone.

"We also have a longer week to build into it [the game]. That is a positive from a physical preparation. Everyone is certainly very positive."

Asked about the expectations that they should be able to record their second tournament win against an erratic Rebels outfit, Sexton said that while they believe in their own ability, they will not underestimate the men from Melbourne.

"Every team in this competition has the ability to win games," he told this website, adding: They [the Rebels] have had a lot of pressure on them [after five defeats] and they had a good win last weekend [over the Force].

"They will want to come home [to Melbourne] and have a good performance in front of their home crowd. We are going to have a very tough game at the weekend, but the guys are ready for that.

"We are certainly not complacent after the performance we had last weekend. We won't be underestimating teams, you do that at your own peril.

"The Rebels have some good players and some world class internationals right across the board.

"We'll give it a good crack, but we are not underestimating them."

He admitted that having had a draw against the Brumbies has certainly given them some confidence.

"We did take a bit of a hiding in week one [of the tour] against the Crusaders and we were better the next week [against the Hurricanes]. We needed to make sure we performed well against that Brumbies side and we did that.

"We will go into this game with a better level of confidence and hope to do well."

Asked about their tactics, given that they are seen as a defensive-orientated outfit, Sexton said they are constantly looking to improve all aspects of their game and avoid becoming predictable.

"Our attack has been evolving and we certainly had a very good defensive performance at the weekend," he said, adding: "That was pretty evident from what you saw [166 tackles and a 90 percent success rate].

"The one area we weren't particularly pleased with was our ability to kick.

"We want to make sure we tidy that area up and have good structure to be down the right end of the park - that's one area we've worked on this week."

The Kings mentor said they have also worked hard on their set-piece play, as their pack are by-and-large inexperienced in Super Rugby.

"A lot of guys haven't played a lot of footy at this level," Sexton said.

"Technically we've worked very hard on our game. We are aspiring to be a very good set piece team - we are at about 80 percent in our line-outs and scrums and we want to work on putting more pressure on the opposition ball.

"That has been a focus for us, the set pieces."

It means two of the most senior players - lock Steven Sykes and hooker Bandise Maku - will be vital cogs in the set-up.

"They are critical for us," he said, adding: "They know what it requires [to be successful in Super Rugby].

"We have young guys that are getting opportunities and they are pretty keen and that goes a long way."

By Jan de Koning

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