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Ross Sutherland focusing on engaging players in midst of stop-start season, according to development officer and coach John Mann

By Andrew Henderson

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John Mann says Ross Sutherland are trying to focus on keeping players engaged with rugby.

It has already been a very stop-start season for the club between breaks for international matches and the festive period, and, of course, Covid-19.

For the second week in-a-row, Scottish Rugby are allowing teams to postpone matches this weekend without penalty due to the high levels of cases, putting the Stags’ match against Aberdeenshire in doubt.

A final decision on whether the game would be played tomorrow was due to be taken after the Ross-shire Journal went to print, but regardless Mann says one of the club’s targets for the rest of the season is simply trying to keep people invested.

“The big thing for us is just trying to keep people engaged,” development officer and first team coach Mann explained.

“We all understand how difficult it is. If you’re not playing games at the weekend it’s hard to motivate people.

Ross Sutherland's season has been stop-start so far, and it has been tough to keep players motivated. Picture: Peter Carson
Ross Sutherland's season has been stop-start so far, and it has been tough to keep players motivated. Picture: Peter Carson

“If we don’t have a game at the weekend, we can give guys a night off training so that when they do come to train they can enjoy the social side safely.

“As for results, we’re sitting mid-table, and our goal would be to stay there.

“If we can finish in the top three, I think that would be phenomenal, but if not then we want to be in the top four.”

It has been a frustrating time for the likes of Mann who would happily play rugby every week to go for long spells without matches, but he is trying to remain philosophical about the situation.

“It’s nobody’s fault,” he reasoned.

“We do have to be grateful that we’re playing rugby, because we weren’t last year, but it is difficult to keep momentum going. I’m sure every sports club has found the same thing,

“We’re more than halfway through now, so we just have to hope the weather doesn’t throw us a curveball at the same time.

“We had the Christmas break and there was the rise (in cases) before that and it continued after. It’s just unfortunate timing, but hopefully it keeps going in the right direction and we can get games played.

“I am by no means an expert in Covid numbers, but they seem to be going in the right way again and coming down, so hopefully this will be the last struggle and then we’ll get a run of games to finish the season.”

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