Time for serious reflection for Impi after close losses

2014-02-06 00:00

AFTER two nail-biting losses in two starts from the eight games they will play in the league phase of the 2014 Varsity Shield campaign, the UKZN Impi face a searching test of character and commitment in the days leading up to round three in Bellville against log-leaders University of Western Cape on February 17.

A 26-25 defeat away to defending champs Central University of Technology and a 17-12 shading by University of Fort Hare at Durban Varsity on Monday evening suggests that the Impi are there and thereabouts but not quite on the mark.

Head coach John Mitchell told The Witness yesterday that the Impi are a new team still in their infancy and there was much to work on.

“Execution, the handling and passing were not at a high level,” Mitchell said of the Impi’s defeat in Durban.

Indeed, the Impi dominated much of the game, forcing UFH into making twice as many tackles.

“It’s a good test of character and commitment now, and sometimes that’s a good position to be in,” said Mitchell.

“They have been close matches and now the players must step up.”

The former All Blacks head coach said responsibility was key.

“I think individuals have learnt a lot about themselves and each other. This team is in its infancy and the players have to learn about individual responsibility for their own role in the team.”

The style of play the coach has implemented makes for greater demands on the players than perhaps they are used to, and takes them out of their comfort zone.

“We have had injuries, which means that we are also drawing on our depth, but two things are important. The players are being challenged to change their mindset and to become more ambitious, which puts greater demand on their execution,” said the Impi mentor.

Responsibility and accountability will surely lead to better execution and in turn reverse narrow losses into satisfying victories. Next up, the Impi play UWC away on February 17, then it’s Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) at home the following Monday.

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