Luke: We need to lift our game

PUBLISHED: February 12, 2007

Luke Watson, captain of the Vodacom Stormers, says the team needs to lift their game in all departments if they want to be competitive against the Chiefs in their Super 14 clash at Newlands on Friday evening.

The flank admits that the team is underperforming at the moment, but said it was not due to a lack of trying or self-confidence. The Stormers lost to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in the first round and on Friday they also went down to the Western Force at Newlands.

Watson, however, is confident they would soon find the missing ingredients to the recipe and they will taste success soon.

“I don’t think it’s a confidence problem. Last week the guys were very disappointed, even slightly embarrassed by that performance (against the Cheetahs),” said Watson.

“We discussed it with the players and especially the tight five because that was obviously an area of concern from last week. I thought the tight five did really well on Friday night.

“In the lineout we put them under tremendous pressure. The scrum calls are calls that can always go either way. It is always like that, it is always open to interpretation. We never had a problem with scrums, we’ve never been a team that gets penalized at scrum time, but on Friday night unfortunately the decision went against us.”

The former SA under-21 captain said he cannot put the blame on the tight five. He said their downfall against the Force had more to do with the collective effort. He stressed, however, that they tried their best.

“Often the mistake the general public out there makes is, they look at us and think we don’t try. It is not a case of body language. The guys were so psyched up and ready for that game, I think you could see it at the contact point and at the defence.

“The Force didn’t penetrate us once. The only time they threatened was with the charged down kick. The defence was really good and it wasn’t a question of attitude. It was a question of execution, whereas last week was a question of attitude.

“It is only a matter of time before we get the combination, the attitude and the execution together.”

He said the players were devastated by the defeat to the Force. “If you had to be a fly on the wall in the change room afterwards, you would understand when you say we hurt.

“They will be reminiscing about the game and the mistakes they’ve made. It will almost haunt them till the next week they can get onto the field, so for us it is never a question of trying, of guts.

“Everyone on that field is fully aware of the fact that they are playing in front of millions of people. For us it is a difficult question. Last week I attributed it to attitude, this week to execution.

“At the moment we are just not able to combine those two things. We understand it is unacceptable. We are the guys playing the game, we are the guys losing.

“We are the guys the crowds are sometimes booing when we walk off the field. We are the guys who have to rectify it. Unfortunately we don’t have the answers to the tough questions, but we are looking for it.”