The Isuzu Southern Kings’ next assignment is on Saturday, 4 January 2020, against Edinburgh and coach Robbi Kempson says they intend to make good use of the training time as they look to turn the corner in their campaign in the new year.
“The next few weeks will definitely be a pre-season for us; not a break,” said Kempson, who is also the franchise’s Director of Rugby. “We can’t afford to take time off because the teams that we will meet when we get back are playing tough Champions Cup games as well as some very intense derbies while we are off. So we need to be match ready when we face them.”
Such is the focus in the camp, Kempson says the only break they will get is a few days over Christmas.
“I will be giving the guys off between 20 and 27 December so that they can enjoy their Christmas, but in the meantime we have a lot of hard work to do,” he said. “We need to do as much of our training at match intensity so that we are not caught out when we return to action in January.
“I know the Toyota Cheetahs have taken a different view and will be taking time off, but they’ve had a very different work-load from us. They came into the Guinness PRO14 off a Currie Cup campaign, and of course they experienced the big high of winning the Currie Cup, so right now it is more important for them to rest.”
Commenting on the areas his team needed to improve on, Kempson said: “There are things that require attention, and that is what we will be doing in the coming weeks.
“Apart from working on our intensity and tempo, our attack needs to improve, and Swys de Bruin will be working with us two days a week, instead of one over the next few weeks.
“Adding to that, our defence was very good against the Ospreys but I felt we took a bit of a step back against Connacht.”
The coach also singled out the soft moments in their games as a work-on.
“We need to tidy up those moments in which we let ourselves down if we are going to challenge for wins against the big teams,” said Kempson. “The soft moments come down to inexperience. But we need to limit what the opposition makes of the opportunities they get in a game and maximise the chances we get.”
He added: “The Connacht side we faced was a real team. They’ve been doing well this year, and I’d rate our performance against them as one of our best ever efforts overseas in the competition.“It was a good gauge of where we are, and while we obviously have a lot to work on, I think it was a step in the right direction.”