| Bulls defence guru Joey Mongalo: We can learn a lot from Pumas’ passion

2 weeks ago
Bulls defence coach Joey Mongalo addresses his troops

Bulls defence coach Joey Mongalo addresses his troops

  • Bulls defence guru Joey Mongalo believes the Pumas have given teams a timely reminder of how important passion on defence is after their stirring win over the All Blacks.
  • The signs at Loftus in that regard are certainly encouraging as the team boasts the stingiest defence in Super Rugby Unlocked.
  • Mongalo says the Bulls’ imposing tackling is a collaborative effort.

The fact that they’re the stingiest defence in Super Rugby Unlocked means the Bulls are clearly doing something right, but Joey Mongalo, the franchise’s defence guru, believes the Pumas’ heroic and historic victory over the All Blacks should inspire his troops to greater heights.

Argentina’s famed passion was evident in their tackling during the 25-15 win in the Tri-Nations, where they completed 152 of their 168 tackles – an incredible 91% against one of the most polished and dangerous attacking teams in world rugby.

At 84%, the Bulls’ tackle success rate can – rather ominously – still improve though conceded just eight tries in five matches is already cause for mild celebration.

Much of that is down to the “Pumas method” – attitude.

“Defence is different to, say, practising attack. You’re really putting your body on the line,” said Mongalo.

“If your heart, your emotions aren’t invested into it, it’s going to show in the way you tackle.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14: Patrick Tuipulotu

As a result, the herculean efforts of, for example, Pumas flanker Marco Kremer – who made a scarcely believable 28 tackes – and hooker Julian Montoya (16) are a timely reminder of the spectacular benefits of sheer commitment.

“We could learn a lot out of that Pumas performance,” said Mongalo.

“They wanted to show through defence that they were up for that game. They wanted to make a statement and they did. You can’t really defend well without pouring your heart and soul into it.”

The former Lions defence coach, currently working towards a Master’s degree in psychology at Tuks, is encouraged by the intent shown by the Bulls when attempting to cage their opponents.

Yet he notes that he can’t take all the credit for it.

“It’s never my stats when we’re defending well. It’s only my fault when we’re defending badly,” said Mongalo.

“When things go well, it’s a whole department that’s contributing. I have to give credit where it’s due. If you have a head coach in charge that the players want to play for, it makes a huge difference.

“We have a forward pack under Russell Winter that simply refuses to let the opposition score. Nollis Marais is constantly working on the players’ defensive breakdowns. Then there are two or three players that lead the defensive system. It’s a whole department that’s getting the rewards.

“We’re encouraged the results to date and we’ll keep fighting to do the same. The longer we’re together, the better we’ll be.”

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