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Staszkiewicz: Now we must finish the job
LLOYD Staszkiewicz has warned that Basingstoke’s excellent victory over Chichester will count for nothing if the team are unable to go on and claim promotion from London One South.
After suffering three straight defeats at the hands of the Sussex club, ’Stoke finally got the monkey off of their back with a 26-16 win at Down Grange last month.
The win moved them to within one point of Chichester, who currently occupy second spot and the division’s play-off berth – but hooker Staszkiewicz says they must finish the job.
“For the guys who had played in the other three games, beating Chichester was a significant hurdle to overcome,” he said. “Sometimes you can hype games up and teams become bogey sides but that win showed us exactly how good we are as a team.
“We have to make sure that was just the start though. We have to win all of the other games and pick up bonus points because if we don’t do that, beating Chichester will count for nothing.
“It’s about digging in and getting promotion but everyone is sure that we can do it. It’s just about getting that level of consistency and making sure that we keep winning to put the pressure on the teams above us.
“The games coming up are all games that we should be winning but there are always slip-ups. You would have expected Chichester to beat Hove before Christmas but they sprung a surprise.
“We cannot afford to be complacent. We have to turn up expecting a hard game and put a performance in. We cannot turn up thinking that we will get a bonus point, we have to expect a battle.”
Staszkiewicz missed several games before Christmas due to work commitments and admits that he expected to find it difficult to get back into the team, such is the level of competition within the squad.
“The battle for a place in the side is massive,” he said. “The seconds are looking really strong and there are a lot of good hookers so I thought it would be a real struggle to get my place in the side back. A lot of people want the position so I just have to play well week on week and I should stay in the team.
“I work in a gym and was training every day so fitness wasn’t an issue. Now I am maybe a bit fresher than some of the others and I have not picked up any niggles.
“I think I’m doing well but you always look to do better. Everyone keeps talking about team performance and if I have a quieter game but the team do well then I am happy.
“I’m always speaking to the coaches to find out areas where I can improve and there’s a great atmosphere at the club. James is managing to include not just the first and second teams but the thirds as well.”
Staszkiewicz is a member of a Basingstoke pack who have received a lot of plaudits over the course of the season, while the set-piece, a hooker’s specialist area, has been very strong.
“I am quite lucky with my jumpers and lifters,” he added. “They are really dynamic, which is good because, as a hooker, you have to trust the people lifting and catching.
“That takes a lot of the pressure off of me. As long as I put the ball in the right place, I know they will go up and get it.
“It’s the same in the scrum. We have got two great props and a strong back row so I know that I do not have to worry about hooking.
“Physically dominant is a phrase that we use quite a lot. We are trying to be aggressive and abrasive.
“We are not the biggest pack in the world so we have to try and play with style and let our fitness show – but we never take a step back.”