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Hammer: We must get right back on track

29th December 2014

Boss Mark Hammett has acknowledged Cardiff Blues must get back on track immediately ce Newport Gwent Dragons on New Year's Day - and revealed his players have been at the very heart of putting things right.

Director of Rugby Hammett admits he had been forced to send out a strong message to his players at half-time in the home defeat to Dragons in the first part of the Guinness PRO12 double-header with the local rivals.

But ahead of the re-match at Rodney Parade to kick-off 2015 on Thursday, Hammett revealed the players inside the Blues dressing room were leading the way and determined to make amends.

He said: “It’s fair to say, at half time we sent out a bit of a message and I spoke to the group after the game as well about what is required. It’s a pretty passionate group with players who have played a lot of rugby.

“You try and read the mood in the dressing room to see what you need to say, or in other cases, what you don’t need to say. It’s apparent they have put the messages across themselves.

“There are some proud players in this team. They are proud of the region they play for and they are disappointed.

“A poor half of rugby does not turn you into a poor team. Nor does it take away what we have been working on and achieving over the last month or so.

“But if we don’t get back on track quickly, it will erode a lot of the good work we have done.”

“Since Munster I think we have been on the up,” he added. “Against the Dragons, a poor first-half performance probably undid a lot of good work that has been done. But that’s sport and sometimes you get a smack on the hand and you have to pick yourself up.

“As coaches, you look at your own performance first before you look at the team because that’s always important.

“I think we got our focus right but unfortunately we did not turn up and the Dragons were very committed. It was not by a lot, but enough.

“Our high ball chase was not good enough and we kicked about five balls away which is effectively a turnover in possession. That hurt us in the end.”

Hammett also revealed he is likely to make changes – with Sam Warburton declared fit – and reflected on his Boxing Day selection.   

“We looked at these two games in tandem and I’ve not changed anything in terms of our thoughts before the first game so there will be some changes this week,” he said.

“I have made mistakes before and I will make mistakes again. I am not saying we made one against the Dragons or not.

“But In the six months I have been here, you have to take time to understand which players can perform at different levels.

“I think the side that we picked, if we played to our potential, would have achieved the result we wanted,” he added. “Unfortunately, as a group, some players played below their normal standard.”