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RUGBY UNION: Vaikona's fears for young Quins
Oxford Harlequins director of rugby Tevita Vaikona fears that the confidence of his young players could be shattered if they suffer more heavy defeats.
Quins bid to bounce back from their 73-11 battering at Newton Abbot last week when they take on Old Patesians in National 3 South West at North Hinksey Lane tomorrow (3pm).
Quins fielded 11 players aged under 21 at Newton Abbot, and Vaikona said that indiscipline – which resulted in them playing with 13 men for 15 minutes after Conor McCaffery and Alan Johnson were sin-binned – was a big factor in the margin of defeat.
But he is concerned that too many drubbings may have a lasting effect on his young side.
“We were ill-disciplined and from then on the floodgates opened and we couldn’t recover,” he said.
“We are very young and inexperienced and I think we were over-ambitious.
“We are obviously going through a tough time at the moment and we have got to keep doing the right things because eventually it should come right.
“They must realise that this is rugby and you need to go through this sometimes to be better.”
Vaikona believes the club is still finding its way following the merger last year of Oxford Harlequins and Oxford.
But he admitted: “I knew it was going to be tough, but I didn’t realise how hard it was going to be.
“There are a lot of things we need to to get in place in the club in general to move forward.
“My frustration is for the players – the young ones we have got – that their confidence doesn’t get smashed.
“When you are young you over-try, and you have got to learn from the experience, how to manage referees and how to go about doing things.
“I can’t fault the effort. If they had played the game longer they would be more streetwise, but unfortunately they have not got there yet.”
Vaikona again finds himself having to make changes with Alban Edwards, Johnny Tevita and Karl Krockford unavailable.
Hooker Chris Davies returns along with scrum half Alasdair Maspero, while prop Toby Sanders, from Nottingham, could make his debut Flankers Chris Ward, who was forced off after half an hour at Newton Abbot with an ankle injury, and Ollie Rees (knee) face fitness tests.
Oxford Harlequins: from Boulton, Davies, Edney, Kalemani, Sanders, Brook, Neal, Ward, Rees, Hilton, Briggs, H Whittington, Johnstone, Halatokoua, Fitzer, Maspero, Stevenson, Todd, Derrick.