Cats fullback Conrad Jantjes feels the fear of losing is what has seen the Cats Vodacom Super 14 campaign spiral out of control this year.
And the mountain of criticism – most of it justified agrees Jantjes – that has been heaped on the team has not helped the players fragile mindsets.
“But all it takes is just one win and that could be Saturday,” enthuses Jantjes when contacted by keo.co.za. “At this stage we would take any win any way. We owe it to the fans.”
“After all the defeats the guys are questioning themselves and that lack of confidence has just got out of hand,” he said. “I look deep down and say to myself ‘Can I still play this game?’”
The answer of course is that Jantjes can play this game and he has proven that at the highest level. So have a host of his Cats team-mates. So why then the horrendous losing streak?
“It’s difficult to answer. We came back so positive after the last two games of our tour. But we still lost again. That fear has manifested itself so deeply now that I think the guys run out onto the field wondering if their shoes are tied, or if they remembered the gum guard instead of focussing on the match.”
Jantjes, who is recovering from an achilles tendon injury and only joined the squad midway through their overseas tour hopes the Sharks could be in for a huge Cats backlash. “I dream of walking off that field having beaten them by 30 or 40 points. It’s just a case of keeping it together for 80 minutes.”
And every 80 minutes the versatile ball player gets through is a major relief for him. “The injury is still in the back of my mind. I think it is probably more so because of the (losing) environment. Medically it’s fine, but mentally I still think of it.”
By Andrew Hollely