A Letter To Season Members From Free Jacks Assistant Coach, Pom Simona

February 28, 2024

Hello Free Jacks family! 

I hope this letter finds you all healthy, well, and excited for the start of the MLR 2024 season.

We’ve arrived back from Houston where we had our fifth and final week of preseason. Overall, it was a great trip that gave us many opportunities to connect, learn, and be challenged by different oppositions and environments. The past week has given both players and staff some valuable insights and learnings that we’ll lean on throughout the coming season. Having trained against one another for so long, the chance to train against the Houston Sabercats and to have a preseason training match against Dallas came at the right time.

We were very much looking forward to last Friday’s match against Dallas. The players had worked hard throughout preseason and were eager to show and implement the work we had been doing. In the first half against Dallas we struggled to get rhythm and continuity into our game. Errors and discipline prevented us from establishing any real long periods of play to put some fatigue into a big Dallas pack. We looked like a team who was playing their first game of the season, while Dallas had more cohesion and polish in their second hit out of the preseason. In saying that, some of our forwards’ maul work in the first half was very good and were rewarded with two tries. 

In the second half we managed to stack more positives together and created more flow and continuity in our game. Our ball carry height was much improved and our cleaners cleaned with more urgency and venom. We managed to wrestle back a lot of the momentum Dallas had in the first half but eventually fell short on the scoreboard. Although the result didn’t go our way, the learnings and lessons we learned as staff and players are much more valuable at this time of the season. We spoke a lot during the preseason about the importance of discipline both in regards to sticking to our game plan and discipline with the referee and got taught a valuable lesson if you don’t get both right. 

We will need to quickly learn that as the defending champions we will be facing the best version of our opposition each week, no matter their position on the league table. It’s a challenge we must accept and walk towards. The pressure of being hunted is a massive privilege and should ensure we leave no stone unturned in our preparation and bring our best selves each week. 

As we move now towards Round 1 in Charlotte, there will be an appetite to right some wrongs from the Dallas match and prove it was just a case of preseason rust.

We have a big week of training coming up to ensure we are well prepared for the best Anthem team we’ll face this season. It’ll be their first MLR game so we are expecting a super charged opposition who will bring a lot of enthusiasm, energy and willingness to play expansive rugby.

We appreciate and value your loyal support and look forward to seeing some of you out in Charlotte.


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