Complacency Biggest Concern for Tom Coventry Against Canterbury

ITM Cup Rd 7 - North Harbour v Canterbury
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As a consideration, and it applies to all sports, the word complacency is the threat to success. For Harbour Rugby head coach Tom Coventry, he is most aware of this heading into today’s ‘top of the table’ clash with Canterbury.

His side will have used the pressure of performance as a self motivating factor. After a close win over Northland last Thursday [22-31] the side as a collective, have looked at what went right, as much as what went wrong.

“Preparing yourself to face the best, every week is critical,” and definitely this weekend, Harbour face their biggest test of the season so far. The first match against Canterbury since 2015–first at home since 2014 (see main picture). But even after five wins, nobody at QBE Stadium during the teams captains run would have been too over-confident.

Complacency Biggest Concern for Tom Coventry Against Canterbury

“We want to get better. Every week we’re wanting to get better.”

Being aware of their first year status in the Premiership, Harbour won’t be getting too far ahead of themselves. Improvement in a key element, when speaking with Tom Coventry. “That is driven by the group, with the coaches highlighting things the side can be better at.

“The team drive the improvements,” and Harbour have a strong culture to gain the respect of the rugby community, through their performances.

Five from five is a perfect position to be in, halfway through the Mitre 10 Cup. And this is why Tom Coventry is wary of complacency. Sitting back and admiring their success is the wrong attitude right now.

Canterbury Backlash After ‘Storm’ Week

While a win this afternoon will place Harbour in the lead placing of the Premiership, it is also ahead of a testing period. Canterbury suffered their first loss of the season, during the ‘Storm’ period of the competition. Three games in ten days, it told on the 2016 Champions.

Losing 60-14 will have wounded the perennial National Provincial Championship (NPC) champs. And the short turnaround schedule can hold some responsibility for that. Canterbury head coach Glenn Delaney has said “I guess it’s not something you can really be proud of.

“But it’s about taking the key learnings and asking ourselves, how did that happen? Why did that happen? And how can we prevent that happening again?”Delaney told the Otago Daily Times.

But for Tom Coventry, it is not so much focusing on the legendary Canterbury, as needing to focus on his sides own game. “We’ve got skills and game plans that we try to develop, that are our own. We try to implement than onto any team we play. And then we have a look at the opposition for that week.

“And this week, it’s Canterbury!”

North Harbour Stadium Should be a Full House

Expectation is high on the North Shore of Auckland. Not since 1994-96 have Harbour seen the heights of success experienced in 2018. A run of wins, unbeaten at home since 2016 [with one draw against Tasman] the local fans should hope to fill-up the Northern stand of QBE Stadium.

And Tom Coventry; while shying away from speaking of the challenge against Canterbury, knows that week six of the Mitre 10 Cup is both an opportunity to gain respect against the best team in the country, and the start of a run of games that will bring challenges of their own.

The so called ‘storm’ week will soon enter Harbours thinking, as they next play Hawke’s Bay on Friday September 29, before the ten day storm of matches. Coventry has said on many occasions, that managing players is key, and for one player, that will ring true.

Backline manager Bryn Gatland is often the director of much of Harbour’s attack. His decision making can set the backline loose, or unleash a high-ball for weapons like Matt Duffie or Shaun Stevenson to chase.

So after this week’s tough test, fans will know more about the depth of first-fives in New Zealand. Coming up against Richie Mo’unga, Gatland will be measured against the Canterbury and Crusaders pivot. It will not only be a test of Mitre 10 Cup players, but possibly the 2018 Super Rugby contest that looms large in the background.

Tom Coventry Wary of Complacency in Key Match

Knowing that the odds are stacked against them, Harbour are still wanting to prove that they are no ‘flash in the pan’. And with an awareness to clear away any complacency, his side are out to gauge themselves against all opposition.

“We’re not done yet, we’ve still got a bit to prove to the public.”

“Canterbury will have had a good look at themselves. And they will know they underperformed [against Wellington]. So complacency is the key for us–we’ve just got to be consistent.”

And the combinations have been consistent for Harbour. Harrison Groundwater and Matt Vaega and the inside/outside center combination, who look to be a credible pairing. Vaega especially has been praised by the head coach. “I think he is having a marvelous year. Hopefully he can reward himself, by gaining a Blues contract in 2018.”

In a strategic change, Ben Volavola is picked ahead of Shaun Stevenson. That is in a choice that may favour more tactical kicking. Although Volavola is a natural number ten, he maybe used now to ensure now that when Gatland is rested, the Fijian International has game time under his belt.

Coventry has been forced to make one late change, with lock Brandon Nansen replacing ex-All Black Jarad Hoeata, who was suspended for one week after last week’s game against Northland.

Harbour: Ben Volvavola, Matt Duffie (c-c), Matt Vaeaga, Harrison Groundwater, Tevita Li, Bryn Gatland, Bryn Hall, Hapakuki Moala, Murphy Taramai, Glenn Preston, Brandon Nansen, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Mike Tamoaieta, James Parson (c-c), Chris Eves.

Reserves: Steven Misa, Karl Tuinukuafe, Sione Mafileo, Shane Neville, Josh Tyrell, Chris Smyllie, Shaun Treeby, Shaun Stevenson.

Canterbury: Alex Hodgman, Ben Funnell, Siate Tokolahi, Mitchell Dunshea, Dominic Bird, Tom Sanders, Jed Brown, Reed Prinsep, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo’unga, Braydon Ennor, Rob Thompson, Tim Bateman (C), Josh McKay, George Bridge

Reserves: Nathan Vella, Chris Gawler, Oliver Jager, Hamish Dalzell, Billy Harmon, Ere Enari, Brett Cameron, Marshall Suckling

“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images