Jon Wilkin Column: Every year has turning points and moments that galvanise a team (From St Helens Star)
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Jon Wilkin Column: Every year has turning points and moments that galvanise a team
6:09pm Friday 27th July 2012 in Sport
THE trip to France during the season is notoriously tricky for numerous reasons - travel and the hot summer climate being main ones.
But the most challenging factor and something that constantly proves to be the difference between the two teams is the sheer volume of ham, cheese and baguettes on offer over the 3 days.
It is an assault that begins from the airport - I will be happy never to see a baguette again.
Although the trip has many ready-made excuses for a poor performance, and some teams opt to use those excuses and produce a below par performance citing the travel, temperature or baguettes as the reason, we didn't want to be one of those teams.
I thought we showed resolve and mental toughness to repel the Catalans attacks. The game had many of the facets of any entertaining sports fixture.
It had suspense, intensity, errors and controversy in the form of disallowed tries and a sending off.
I don't want to waste time discussing the officials but want to focus on the great rugby played by both sides and I thought there was plenty of it. Travelling back made me realise how difficult it must be for the Catalans team travelling every other week.
That is balanced out by living in the South of France and being able to train in beautiful conditions with the sun on your back.
It is at that point that my sympathy for them retreats. Every year has its turning points and moments that galvanise a team and I feel we may have had one of those moments last weekend.
This week we play a team that show exactly what impact confidence can have upon a team.
Huddersfield started the year full of it and looked every bit like a team capable of winning silverware.
This is now in stark contrast to the side that for the last couple of months has struggled really to compete in any game they have played. The only difference is confidence.
When things are going well you rarely over-analyse things, you accept criticism and playing the game is easy.
When you have been in bad form as a team I find that people start to question everything and also start to look for answers for the problems when the answers are right there.
n 2004 at Saints we went on a great run until the Challenge Cup Final, but from the point of winning that game onwards our form would have placed us second bottom in the league. The only thing that changed was confidence it disappeared without warning and took a long time to come back. I can empathise with the Huddersfield team at the moment.
They will be looking for a big performance against us to spark something that might change their fortunes. They are very dangerous with the ball at times and in Danny Brough they have one of the best organisers and kickers of the ball. When he plays kick offs and kick returns become very tricky and I fully expect that on Sunday night.
We need to continue the momentum we are gathering and ensure that any green shoots of Huddersfield confidence are stopped before they become a problem.
It is the time of year when everyone starts the final shuffle towards the play-offs and trying to finish in the best position possible. We have to be realistic and understand that we have come a long way from sitting in tenth. We have a chance to cement third over the coming weeks and I like the fact that we are coming in under the radar.
I sense a great momentum with us at the moment - we are winning and not playing amazingly well which is widely regarded as a good sign in sports.
Finally, I just want to congratulate my mate Ian Barker on completing the UK Ironman event. It is a huge achievement. On the Testimonial front it is a busy few months. Challenge Cup winners night, Johnny Vegas and A Question of Sport.
For all enquires visit the Testimonial website www.jonwilkin.co.uk Sponsored by Hattons Gold