Why WP scrum must 'evolve'

Fri, 16 Aug 2013 08:21
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Western Province have the right personnel, they have just have to 'evolve' their mental approach at scrum time.

Western Province have the right personnel, they have just have to 'evolve' their mental approach at scrum time.

Province scrum coach Matthew Proudfoot admitted his team "succumbed to pressure" in the 24-all draw with the Bulls last week.

They will face an equally daunting task when the Free State Cheetahs arrive for a Round Two Currie Cup encounter at Newlands on Saturday.

However, rather than change the personnel to bring the desired results, Proudfoot suggested that the WP forwards "evolve" their mental attitude.

Proudfoot, speaking to this website in the build-up to Saturday's Newlands encounter, pointed to the width that the Cheetahs play with, the physicality that they bring and how "ferocious" they were at the breakdown.

"We know it is going to be a tough challenge for us," the Province forwards coach said, adding: "They pose a lot of questions attacking wise and defensive wise.

"On defence they are very physical, they tend to hold you up [and force turnovers], attack the breakdown and put your attack under a lot of pressure."

However, it is the new scrum engagement sequence which continue to dominate discussions, especially after the manner in which the WP folded against the Bulls onslaught in the latter stages of last week's game.

"Week One to Week Two every team is going to be involved in the scrum process," Proudfoot said.

"It has all been new for us - the evolution there, it won't be the same scrummaging pack you see from Week One to Week Two.

"They [the Cheetahs] would have figured out where the chinks in their system were and move forward, like all the teams are going to do. The first couple of weeks you will see at scrum time, you will see totally different qualities from the teams."

Like Province the Cheetahs also struggled at scrum time last week, not surprising given that their entire front row is on Springbok duty.

However, they - like Province - will be keen to rectify that.

"I expect them to be much better, Os [du Randt] is a very good coach and they will be motivated to right the wrongs [at scrum time]," Proudfoot told this website.

"They have been one of the better scrummaging teams in Super Rugby and they will look to get back to that.

Asked about the reasons for the WP team's set-piece struggles, the forwards mentor said their "engagement" under the new scrum sequence was "really" poor.

"We never got our props into a good scrummaging position and that was really disappointing for me," he said, adding: "The biggest disappointment was that we allowed the pressure to get to us - we also allowed it to affect the rest of our game.

"Being 21-9 up at home, you should back yourself to win a game.

"When the Bulls brought that physical pressure we succumbed to it, because our scrum wasn't performing. That just shouldn't happen, irrespective of what is working and not working on the day.

You should be a good enough team to finish that game off."

Asked if he felt it was a personnel thing or just mentally not being switched on, Proudfoot said that was the question they were trying to solve this week.

"I tend to not blame personnel, I tend to blame things that are tangible, things that you can affect." he said.

"There the mental approach has to evolve and get stronger.

"[You have to ask:] Will it change if Brok Harris start at No.3 or Pat Cilliers?

"I don't think it would have made a difference [against the Bulls last week].

"As a collective there has to be leadership and there has to be that inner fight to resist that pressure.

"I don't think that was there [last week] and that is what I was disappointed with."

By Jan de Koning

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