Exclusive Insights: Mackintosh reveals Suva strategy

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Assistant coach Jamie Mackintosh said the players were familiar with it, having spent time during their pre-season at their Heretaunga training facility.

"It was pretty uncomfortable for the lads to get back in there with the heat and [it's about] noise, concentrating under pressure, and trying to dial into some detail.

"We run backs and forwards meetings at the same time. It's a great way to start the week."

Mackintosh said the facility gave them no excuses, and it was about achieving the one—and two-percent points that make a difference.

At the same time they still needed to get outside in Wellington's climate, to get dirty and train hard.

"We're conscious of how we use the facility and how lucky we are, but we're also trying to keep the boys pretty humble. But today was magic being able to use it like we did."

Fiji was a different environment, but Mackintosh said it was great that Super Rugby was taking them somewhere different.

"I feel for the guys not being able to go to South Africa. Growing up and playing over there, you felt a different environment.

"It's hostile for us to be able to go to Fiji. It's different to South Africa but [also] different to wherever else we play.

"The people are amazing, but they love to beat you up."

Crowd noise, a slippery ball, and the momentum the Drua take from their supporters were incredible.

"When they get up on top of the grass and start playing their game, they're really difficult to stop.

"Physically, they've made massive inroads with their set piece and are now becoming a formidable team and its going to be a massive job."

Having lost to the Drua in Fiji last year, the coaches had learned some lessons, which they hoped would be reflected in their play on Friday.

"Going over there knowing all the facets of your game, you still have to be really good, and you've got to use all the tools in your belt.

"But I can tell you one thing, if you're not physical, and you're not winning collisions either with the ball, or without the ball on defence, it's going to be a long day."

Mackintosh, in his second season with the side, said the previous coaches, Jason Holland and Chris Gibbes, had left a well-run team. Now, the players were showing their development as athletes, particularly the loose forwards, who were just hitting their prime.

"And Clark's been awesome around making us coaches think and present differently.

"We've all got a growth mindset where we genuinely want to be better. The boys see the coaches trying to get better and we see the boys doing the same."

There was a 'dare-to-be-different' attitude in the camp that has been working well. They were aware they would have to deal with adversity at some point, but he felt they were working to cope with it when it occurred.

One of the lessons in their come-from-behind win over the Chiefs at the weekend was needing to understand how vital their discipline was when under pressure.

"Staying in sets, big defensive sets, backing your system, backing your set piece and also balancing it on the other side of the ball with our flair to play the game and keeping the ball alive to use our skill sets."

As a forwards coach, Mackintosh said he was delighted at how committed the pack was to each other.

"I was rapt that at stages of the game that our set piece, when the phone rang, picked it up and had some big moments on the line with the scrum, and we've still got improvements. There's always something you can fine tune and tweak, but the pack's in a good spot and should be proud of themselves."


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