Thulani Hlatshwayo defends coach Gavin Hunt against criticism over Bidvest Wits squad rotation
Posted: 17 April 2017 Time: 11:23
Bidvest Wits captain Thulani Hlatshwayo has defended coach Gavin Hunt's recent squad rotation as they look to remain in the Absa Premiership title race.
Wits have made the league their priority as it approaches it's climax, with between five and 10 games remaining for the five title contenders at present.
Hunt, though, has yielded criticism in recent weeks as his side – seen to featured fringe players – have been knocked out of the Nedbank Cup, CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup with unconvincing displays.
Hlatshwayo has defended his gaffer, saying it's important to give players minutes wherever they can as they look to see out their title challenge, with more back-up options this time around than what they had last season when they lost key players through injuries in the final few weeks.
"When we played in the Nedbank we had a lot of players who were not playing regularly, though some played, they never lasted for 90 minutes," defended the skipper.
"I think the coach gave them a chance so they could get game time. We need each and every player towards the end of the season.
"I had a word with [the coach] when we played against Platinum Stars. I said, 'Coach, I don't think we started well as a team [in February] and this is what happens when there's an interantional break – when we come back we're not the same team as before the break.'
"Yes, I didn't play the [international friendly] game against Angola with Bafana Bafana because of an ankle [niggle], but I had to force it against Platinum Stars and I think I made it worse.
"Coach then felt that I should be on the bench as cover against Cosmos, so I think he's aware of these things [injury management]. Games are back-to-back now so there's no time to play friendlies.
"The guys who haven't been playing were getting game time in friendlies, but now with games coming thick and fast, that's why he gave the guys a chance to play in Nedbank and [in CAF]."
With James Keene, Granwald Scott, Daine Klate, Xola Mlambo and Thabang Monare all out with muscle injuries, while Nazier Allie faces a lengthy absence after being injured in training, it begged the question whether their training regime is perhaps causing them to stumble towards the business end of the campaign.
However, the burly 27-year-old centre-back defended Hunt as one manager who knows how to manage the load on his players on the training ground.
"I can't say it's the load because Nazier broke his toe – Eleazar [Rodgers] stamped on him," revealed Hlatshwayo.
"You know how Gavin is, he's not a coach that will make you train for two, three hours, as long as there's more intensity then 30 minutes is enough with coach Gavin.
"We're also not a team to train twice a day unless it's pre-season, so I wouldn't say it's the load [causing all the injuries."