Getting Through Tough Times

07 December 2015

Cell C Sharks loose forward Tera Mtembu is an example to young and old players of how the right mental attitude can be the difference between depression and motivation.

He missed much of the season due to injury, but remained positive throughout, thanks in particular to some sound advice from Jimmy Wright, the Cell C Sharks' Biokineticist.

Remaining on the sidelines, but staying positive and motivated during that difficult time is one of the most difficult periods a player must endure, but in Mtembu's case, when he was injured, he was able to work on other areas.

"Although I couldn't train to play, I never stopped; Jimmy Wright was a great motivator,” he explains. “Although I injured my knee, he assured me that the other parts of me were fine! And from there I just got stuck into the gym.

"It's obviously hard being away for a long time and you have to find something within you to stay motivated, and Jimmy suggested that before or after I went in for my op that I visit the ICU to give me some perspective. It worked, it kept me motivated and now I'm raring to go.”

He joined the squad in the second week of pre-season training and declares that it's been going well.

“It is very tough but so good to be back. Not much has changed as far as pre-season training is going; like previous years, it's really hard, although with the new coaches and new structures, there are different dynamics.”

As far as new coaches go, although former local provincial scrumhalf Robert du Preez is new to The Sharks coaching set-up, Mtembu explains that having played under him at club level means there is very little adaptation necessary. 

"He coached me at Rovers and I enjoy his style and I think he's a really good acquisition for us. He has great ideas, is very strict and has strong attention to detail.  Omar Mouneimne, our defence coach, has been involved at the highest level of rugby and he's also a good addition to our coaching staff.  The two of them together with tighten up on our defence as well as attack."

With the stated aim of playing more attacking rugby in the quest to score more tries [and enjoy great success], as a mobile player, he admits that this is encouraging for him personally as it suits his style of play.

"One year when the Chiefs won the tournament, they scored the most tries, but also conceded the second highest number - but it was scoring so many tries that helped them win the competition. So it's all about scoring tries and something that we are driving, working hard on our skills. We've been saying that for a while now, but hopefully all the hard work we're putting in now pays off next season.”

Although a large part of the team's focus is on scoring tries and being empowered with the necessary skillset to achieve that goal, defence too is critical - scoring five tries is wonderful; but not if you concede six and lose the game.

"Yes, you have to defend well; you want to be able to score tries but you also have to be able to defend and Omar has been very good for us. He brings in great structures and it's important for the guys to buy into his plan. I know it's going to work."

Image: Tera Mtembu when he was still on the sidelines

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