“You have to be patient”: how the MHR staff manages competition within their group

“You have to be patient”: how the MHR staff manages competition within their group

Auguste Cadot a marqué des points avec le MHR le week-end dernier. MHR – Baptiste Soulé

The performances of Auguste Cadot, Alex De Nardi, Lenni Nouchi and Gabriel Ngandebe may have shaken up the hierarchy for the match against Bayonne this Saturday February 24 (3 p.m.) at the GGL Stadium.

Since his arrival on November 19, one of the successes of the Montpellier staff is to have breathed a sense of emulation into his squad. All players were entitled to at least two match sheets in three months. The European Challenge, too, made it possible. Some took the opportunity to catch the eye of the coaches. 

Among the confirmed players, Ben Lam, Marco Tauleigne and Clément Doumenc have gained ground. The first, almost non-existent in 2023, has become the starting winger. He played 7 matches out of the 12 orchestrated by Patrice Collazo and others. His extraordinary size (1.94 m, 110 kg) is used to good effect in the current system. The reintegration of the New Zealander has also eclipsed his compatriot George Bridge, only aligned against Oyonnax at the end of November and in Challenge.

Strategies and opportunities

In the Top 14, the Montpellier staff initially did little to rotate, especially at the back. The returns to the top of Jan Serfontein and Geoffrey Doumayrou brought serenity and experience to the center of the field. Which forced Arthur Vincent to play on the wing or push Thomas Darmon to the bench.

At Racing 92 last weekend, Collazo and Etcheto entrusted the keys to Auguste Cadot, Alex De Nardi and Gabriel Ngandebe. Strategic choices explained in part by the synthetic surface of the Paris Défense Arena. "Some have tired joints. Synthetic may not be very good for them. So we put players in who could match that. There is a logic to what we do. It also allows for emulation, competition", notes the attack coach, Vincent Etcheto.

“You have to be patient”: how the MHR staff manages competition within their group

This kind of strategy, of taking elements into account, is specific to Patrice Collazo. "Patrice really likes to plan and implement precise strategies based on several parameters. We talk a lot. It's good", adds "Etchet'".

The strategy almost worked in Lyon (20-18 defeat), even La Rochelle (18-10). It ended up paying off in Racing (20-44) with a victory that was as unexpected as it was successful. 

And Cadot, De Nardi, Ngandebe and even Lenni Nouchi, promoted to captain, seized their chance. Apart from the first, who left with the France Développement team, the three should be renewed against Aviron Bayonnais. 

"You have to be patient"

The opportunity to discuss with Vincent Etcheto the way in which the staff manages their group, how they reintegrate or not players left on the sidelines for a moment. "Now we know the players. We have a squad with potential. Some guys don't play because there are good reasons, others because it's completely subjective. Ben Lam plays well but can do better. Little De Nardi had an average match in Bayonne and there, he put in a rather successful performance at Racing. Auguste Cadot showed us that he was continuing his European performances. Players must understand that they will not have much playing time, only in a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes of play, or during a European match , they show us what they are worth", analyzes the former manager of Soyaux-Angoulême.

"You have to be patient and stay at the service of the team to fight for survival. It’s high-level sport. If it's complicated to live ? It's never easy, especially when you come back from a full season in Pro D2, assures full-back Alex De Nardi, who had not played in the league since December 2.

Also read: "If we hadn'hadn't wanted to come" : after twelve weeks of working together, the MHR staff seems to have found a balance

"The performances of these boys reassure us in our convictions. It forces us, constantly, not to have fixed ideas about guys", slips Etcheto. 

Faced with players lacking playing time, the staff does not break the link. "We talk to each other all the time. Little words here and there. Like I had with George Bridge this (Wednesday) morning. Sometimes it's formal with interviews, sometimes not. Patrice's way of managing, with Bernard (Laporte) at his side, is pretty cool. The players appreciate it, I think", concludes the technician, whose headaches in aligning a team have become a luxury.

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