Edinburgh Rugby’s Nasi Manu believes that the squad can help themselves by mentally preparing better for games as they bid to climb the Pro12 table and compete in Europe during December.
The 27-19 loss at the Dragons on Sunday left the capital club languishing in the lower reaches of the league and highlighted exactly the inconsistencies that have dogged the capital team for a number of years.
That defeat came off the back of a brilliant 28-17 win over Ulster, albeit that victory was three weeks earlier.
And the same had happened in October when they beat Harlequins in the Challenge Cup 36-35 before stumbling to a 19-14 defeat to lowly Zebre in the league.
New Zealander Manu, the 28-year-old No 8, feels that the Edinburgh squad is strong enough to compete on both fronts, but knows they have a big December coming up and need to ‘get in the zone’.
Tomorrow night they play the Ospreys in Wales and Manu said: “The biggest thing is preparation.
“I think in terms of preparation we are pretty good as a team and you have to be consistent in your preparation.
“Individually I don’t think everyone is always mentally preparing well and that is hard to measure. Those games against Harlequins and Ulster every single player was ‘up’ the whole week, you could see that mental edge.
“No matter who the opponent is you have to try to prepare the same every week.
“As an experienced player I understand what works well for me, what I need to do to prepare well, play well and be ready right from the first whistle. I have my own preparation and every player is different. Back home [in New Zealand] we actually had mental coaches coming in [to] make you understand how your mind works – there was a big emphasis on mental preparation.
“I don’t know whether mental preparation is as big here, but there are guys who need to relax before games and there are guys who need to get away from it to play their best.
“What works for me is not going to work for Duncan Weir or Magnus Bradbury. Everyone needs to find their own way to prepare and maybe over time we will get mental skills people in to work with us, who knows.”
The playing squad had Monday off to recover, but when they returned to BT Murrayfield on Tuesday they were shown a video nasty by acting head coach Duncan Hodge.
“It was a pretty tough review of the Dragons game and when things aren’t going well you sometimes need a magnifying glass to look at all the things you need to change,” Manu stated.
“I think for me from the weekend we made too many mistakes.
“I think it was 18 or 20 unforced turnovers and for any game that is far too high. It put a lot of pressure on our defence and things become unstructured and we had to work a lot harder in our systems.
“Execution and accuracy at the breakdown were not the best and they needed to be to beat a tough Dragons side.”
Currently Edinburgh are without key back-row men John Hardie and Hamish Watson, the former injured and the latter resting after three great showings for Scotland in November.
However, Manu said: “I think our loose forward depth is good. These young boys like Magnus Bradbury and Jamie Ritchie are actually pretty capable. Obviously Hamish is another step ahead along the road in his career with John Hardie, but I think the young boys are not too far off.
“At the weekend we may not have turned over as much ball as we would have liked, but it was our errors and execution that let the Dragons into the game. I am confident in our back-row.
“As for big Bill Mata, well he is a skilful man, I think he is still finding his place in this team. He is very humble and shy, but he is really exciting. I guess the more he learns our structures the better he will be as the season goes on.”