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T&T need ‘remedial work’ before NACRA says Coach

Larry_Mendez-300x173By Kern De Freitas Trinidad Express Newspapers

Trinidad and Tobago’s senior ruggermen will resume training today (Tue 4) as they prepare for their NACRA 15-a-side final against virtual unknowns in USA South.

T&T–who are seeking their first regional rugby title since 2010–will have home advantage for the June 22 finale against their latest opponents, who reached the final on their first attempt.

A venue for the fixture is yet to be decided.

What is known is that USA South beat hosts Bermuda 24-14, and edged Cayman Islands 9-7 via three penalty kicks, which is no mean feat against those North zone teams. They started off their year with a 50-23 thrashing of Mexico at home, their first-ever NACRA victory, which suggests T&T and coach Larry Mendez will have their work cut out for them over the next three weeks.

Mendez admitted yesterday that he too has very little information on T&T’s fellow finalists. His charges have nine training sessions between now and the final to prepare for the unknown, and also to ensure the visitors become less so.

The T&T coach, who also heads Harvard Club’s technical team, said yesterday that the national team has some “remedial work” to do after their 20-0 shut out of Guyana on Saturday at UWI SPEC, which put the “Calypso Warriors” into the final. T&T also eased past Barbados 19-6 in an away fixture.

“We have some fine turning to do,” Mendez told the Express. “All the players coming out of this game, they’re now starting to understand their roles and what is required of them. They’re putting it together, and the team philosophy, they’re now buying into it. [Having] one more game under our belt would have taken the boys to that understanding of what they need to get done.”

Mendez, who led Harvard to seven titles in eight competitions last year–they were beaten finalists in the Tobago International Sevens tournament–said the team have done a lot of cross-fitness work with the Rough House gym in St James, to build their “physicality and mental toughness”.

“There was no letting up, even though for ten minutes we played a man short [after T&T tight head Ernest Wright was shown a yellow card]. They were able to step up and defend against Guyana with 14 (men).”

Even though they did all that work in training, Mendez said the team did surprise him on the pitch.

“Guyana is a mentally tough team,” he noted. “They never gave up, they worked very hard down to the end, but our defence were able to keep them out.”

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