As we waited for the referee to blow the whistle to confirm our 17-10 win against the Argentina XV, I’m not sure we really ever had the feeling of “we’ve done it.”
Going into the game we all felt that there was an opportunity for us to demonstrate our growth and go out there and potentially, for the first time, beat the Argentinians. But we actually weren’t thinking about that. We’ve been focused on the process.
What does our process, day in and day out, look like, and how do we get that positive performance?
If we’re doing things right, then long-term that puts us in a position to be successful. As competitors we tend to be pretty results oriented, but the challenge is that we have to focus on what we do every day — focus squarely on the job — and not think about the results of the next game. The score will take care of itself.
Of course, winning the game was something we wanted. The first 20 minutes we did some good things, but we also showed that this was our first game of the year. We created some opportunities, but we put ourselves under pressure during that time too. Perhaps most importantly though, we demonstrated a toughness and relentless attitude — setting out our stall that it’s going to be an 80-minute contest.
And I think that is the foundation we can build on. You think long-term about how we can grow and what we can hang our hat on, and I’d look at that toughness and resilience. We weren’t going to make it easy to score on us, and we weren’t going to give up on a play, and we demonstrated that.
Hanco’s tackle at the end was a really good example of playing to the end.
Now our challenge is to collectively grow our decision-making and add maturity to it all. Later in the game we did that; we had some good, mature moments of control that complemented our enthusiasm and energy.
We’ve got a good mix of players. Dino Waldron and Titi Lamositele scrummed well for us, and Mike Te’o adds a spark of energy that we need. The team as a whole worked really hard.
Now we can build on that, enjoy the process of getting better — and realize this is just the beginning.