Wits coach Gavin Hunt laments his 'first time out of the Top 8 since 1981'
Gavin Hunt says this year is his first since 1981 not taking part in the MTN8 competition‚ but downplays that as being part of the reason for Bidvest Wits being quick out of the blocks in 2018-19.
Wits‚ from last season’s 13th-placed humiliation as champions‚ raced to their third win from three in the Absa Premiership with Wednesday night’s 1-0 victory against Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium.
The Clever Boys will aim for a fourth win hosting SuperSport United at Bidvest Stadium on Saturday night.
Hunt did not want to ascribe the promising start at least in part to having no MTN8 to partake in‚ and just the league to concentrate on.
Asked about not being in the MTN‚ he said: “It’s huge. It’s the first time since as player in 1981.
“Since 1981 I haven’t not been in the Top 8‚ as a player and as a coach. So now you know how I feel.
“So it’s the first time ever I’ve been out of it. And I’m so upset about it because I always feel that if you can get that first [MTN8] game‚ you’ve got three games [to win the competition]. And you can find your squad and your rhythm and rotate a bit here and there.
“So it’s very disappointing that we’re out of the Top 8‚ but‚ you know‚ we’ve come together and we had a good preseason‚ and we’ve had a good rethink.
“We had to after the last season. I mean it was a debacle. I mean‚ last season we had 11 points after 15 games and this season we’ve got nine after three. It’s crazy‚ this game.
“And I don’t think we’ve played any better than last year‚ but that’s how football works.”
Hunt puts Wits’ dramatic improvement down to a rebuilt‚ hungrier squad and good preseason.
“It’s been a stunning preseason. I mean‚ in last year’s preseason we were still driving around in a bus with the fanfare and parading [the trophy] around while the preseason was on‚” the coach said.
“And I could see there was a problem – I knew there was.
“And you know‚ once a player and a team lose that desire to win‚ you’re gone‚ you’re finished. You can have all the best players in the world‚ but you’ve got to have that desire.
“So we’ve tried to get a few players in who have got a little bit of desire‚ who haven’t won anything‚ which a lot of these players haven’t. And try and build that team again.
“Teams generally work in four to five-year cycles. We had a four-year cycle where we went third‚ third‚ second and won the league.
“It’s unbelievable for a club of our size to do what we did. And then we won the MTN8 and this and that‚ and then just sort of had a huge meltdown.
“So we made some brave decisions‚ we let some out-of-contract players go and got a few in.
“We’ve only played three games. It will help us a lot going forward‚ and trying to get to 30 points as quickly as possible.”