Coleman: Vikings need belief, in ourselves and each other

By Pete Fairbairn, 06.10.16

It’s the final round of regular fixtures in the 2016 Buildcorp NRC, and as we’ve done throughout the duration of the competition this week we’re housing the thoughts of Robbie Coleman, UC Vikings star.

Play-maker Coleman is one of the most experienced Vikings in the 2016 squad, having made nearly 80 Super Rugby appearances during seven seasons at the Brumbies, and he’s played every game this year as the Vikings head into the final round with their finals hopes hanging by a thread.

Hosting Perth Spirit at Viking Park on Saturday after losing their two last two matches and conceding an average of 59 points per game in the process, the prognosis is simple for the Vikings; turn their form around and win, to secure a finals spot, or else their season is over.

Robbie takes us into the Vikings’ inner sanctum as he details how they feel heading into this crunch match, as well as gives us a bit of insight into a couple of the Vikings’ young stars.

Robbie Coleman - In His Own Words, Round Seven:

It should almost go without saying that as a group, and individually, we are very disappointed to lose back to back matches in the way we have. Last week’s opponents the Rays are a classy outfit, but I don’t think we gave them the proper match-up we could; we know we are better than what we have shown, and individually we know that we didn’t leave it all out there.

When you give everything you’ve got and you walk off the field knowing that you’ve done that, then a loss is a bit easier to take, but knowing that our mistakes, work ethic and mindset let us down is what disappoints us the most.

The silver lining out of it is that we have our fate in our own hands now, and this weekend we have a game at home against Perth Spirit. This is a do or die game for us, and the boys understand how lucky we are to have the opportunity to play for finals simply take out this competition despite the disappointing performances we’ve had thus far.

More than anything else, we have been disappointed with how we’ve performed in our home matches, only winning one out of three. We owe our fans more than what we’ve shown so far, but we know we are capable of more and because of that the boys are just so excited for Saturday. To be completely honest, we’re ready to play right now and we’re really confident we will turn it on this weekend.

We saw this year with the Raiders and the turnout that they were getting that if you do well in Canberra, the support is there. Yes, it’s a small city, but everybody knows how you’re tracking, and therefore it has definitely been a talking point amongst the players this week that we want to do it for the fans.

It’s not always about winning but it is about doing ourselves proud with our effort and putting your body on the line for the jersey, for your teammates and for Canberra. We know we’re not going to nab a home final so no matter what it’s our last game here for the year, but we want to do them proud and then go on and represent Canberra in the NRC finals series.

It’s really important that we come out of the blocks firing against a Spirit side who have one of the best defensive records in the competition. If you look at some of the upsets over the weekend, it’s clear that in the NRC if you rack up a couple of early tries, you can find yourselves with a good lead. We have started our last five games off with a deficit, so we need to make sure we start with the right attitude as that has cost us.

The key word for us this week is belief, in ourselves and in each other. I honestly think that with the team we have our defeats have been largely mental, as we have the talent and some of our passages of play against the top teams have seen us score some great tries. We’re right up there in the top couple of teams statistically from a tryscoring perspective, but our defence hasn’t been to the same standard and it’s so crucial in this competition.

If you let them go back to back, that’s sixteen points and mentally that can force you to go outside your patterns and play a different style of football; you feel like you’re further back than perhaps you actually are, and we’ve been guilty of panicking in those situations.

It’s really important that we don’t miss one out of the ten tackles that we should make every single time, and that we play from minute one right until the end of the game; those types of 1 percenters are far more of a mindset thing than anything else.

Our squad has been tested depth wise in 2016, but the beauty of the NRC is that we are getting to find out more about players who perhaps wouldn’t have been expected to see so much game time. Every time we get somebody called up to the Wallabies, or somebody is rested or injured, we’re always excited to see somebody make a debut. Our depth has been tested but that’s only going to make those players better, which will improve the standard of Club Rugby here in Canberra and that can only be a good thing for Australian Rugby, with the Brumbies to enjoy the flow-on from that as well.

Flyhalf Alex Horan has been a great addition to our squad this year. He has spent most of the season leading our reserves around the paddock before recently getting his chance, but that’s still such a vital job in helping to prepare us for the weekend. For an eighteen-year-old, he is very calm and isn’t afraid to call the play.

He has all the confidence in the world once he gets his head around the game plan, and his kicking and passing on both sides are really strong. He has all the makings to be a very good Super Rugby player, and I actually thought when he came on in a tough situation against the Rays last week he was one of our shining lights and had some lovely touches and involvements, even though we were getting pumped. His Rugby career will be a long one if he continues to improve at the rate he has since week one of the NRC.

‘Rabs’ (Jordan) Jackson-Hope has been around our squad now for two years, and his biggest work-on has been around using his voice and speaking up; being louder. Stephen Larkham and him have worked closely, and I know when I’ve played flyhalf that having him outside me gives me a lot of confidence.

He’s the fittest player in the team, and the work that he puts in means he is always in the right spot and ready for the play. We all forget how young he is because he has been around for so long, but he has really established himself and hasn’t missed a minute yet in the NRC. He is starting to really bulk up now and get a bit more speed as he matures, and I think he will really push to be heavily involved in the Brumbies in 2017 after another big pre-season.

Back to this weekend, and back to that word; belief. That’s what will get us across the line with a win, and into finals.
We need to back our confidence, know we are good enough and know we are strong enough to push that little bit harder. If we’re feeling the pain, we need to remember that they are too, but we know that we can work for each other and get this job done.

It’s going to be a cracking match, and we’re all up for it.

2016 Buildcorp NRC, Round Seven (all times AEDT):
- Western Sydney Rams vs. NSW Country Eagles, 1:00pm Saturday October 8th, Concord Oval, Sydney
- Canberra Vikings vs. Perth Spirit, 3:00pm, Saturday October 8th, Viking Park, Canberra (live on Fox Sports)
- Melbourne Rising vs. Sydney Rays, 1:00pm Sunday October 9th, Frankston Oval, Frankston
- Brisbane City vs. Queensland Country, 1:00pm Sunday October 9th, Ballymore, Brisbane

Pete Fairbairn
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