USA captain Todd Clever said the disappointment felt throughout the squad after a poor showing against Tonga has to be put aside in order for the team to work toward getting better.
“I think things are finally coming together,” he said, after having some time to put the game in perspective. “We came to a conclusion between the players and the staff on how we are going to get better going forward. We need to be stronger as a 15. He have no excuses; We just didn’t get the job done.”
All of the issues in the game against Tonga: rustiness, game fitness, unforced errors at key moments, forward passes, turnovers; all of it plagued the minds of the players after the game.
“We know we shot ourselves in the foot a few times,” Clever told RUGBYMag.com. “Individually we let the team down. Our personal concentration wasn’t there. When you enter the green zone or get a scoring opportunity, the main goal is to get points: three, five or seven. We didn’t and we let them off the hook. Right now, what we want to accomplish on the field has not been going as smoothly in games as it has on paper or in training.”
Clever said some players did have good performances, despite the result against Tonga, and for many observers it seems no surprise that two of the better layers on Wednesday were those who had already taken the field: Colin Hawley and Scott LaValla. But the captain said that just as it’s important to build on the good performances, it’s important to pick up the players who didn’t play well – and those players know who they are.
“We’re teammates,” Clever said. “We are there for each other as teammates, roommates, and friends. If you didn’t play well you can’t dwell on it too much. Have your moment to sit and think about it, but there’s still a job to be done. Nobody’s position is secure for the World Cup and you don’t want to be a sour lemon in the corner. You’ve got to get back out there.”
Which is exactly what the USA has to do Saturday against Russia.