Teams Talk: Is Under Pressure Schildknecht Ready For A Rethink?

Super League Malibu 2021

Manager

It was somewhat of a baptism of fire for Ronnie Schildknecht in 2021. He had to miss the first event and found himself playing catch up after that, his fellow managers having stolen a tactical march on him. His team suffered as well.

Team Rhinos

Star man Marten Van Riel was ruled out of London because of COVID, and his top female performer, Katie Zaferes, normally a genuine title contender in Super League, failed to quite reach those heights consistently throughout the Series. It left the Rhinos rock bottom of the Teams Leaderboard, and Schildknecht with a lot of thinking to do over the summer ahead of a new season.

What have they learned?

There are two significant areas for Schildknecht to consider. The first is the draft. The Rhinos had too many middling athletes, who were competitive up to a point, but were not really challenging for either overall titles, discipline leaderboards or Short Chutes. It is a long way from being a winning combination, even if the manager himself could have been forgiven for hoping for a little more from some of his athletes.

Super League 2021 Munich Mens Race

The second area is around gelling the team itself. That London absence for Schildknecht and Van Riel put the Rhinos on the back foot and they never truly recovered. You have to get stuck in and lead from the front from day one.

DO THEY RETAIN?

In the women’s field you would think they may well chuck in their hand and gamble. Katie Zaferes is out as she takes time off following the arrival of her first child. She was their big gun last time out. Rachel Klamer has been consistent in Super League, but has had a bit of a mixed WTCS campaign so far so is a gamble as a retained pick. Valerie Barthelemy is unlikely to be a retained pick while Yuko Takahashi is not an option.

Super League London Womens Race

In the men’s it is trickier as the Rhinos have Marten Van Riel. He has not contended for an overall Super League title yet, but he may have done in 2021 had it not been for his COVID hit start to the campaign.

It may well be that the choice to retain him is the most sensible option.

What should their tactics be?

Given they finished rock bottom last time out, it has to be a total rethink and refresh of approach and tactics. The Rhinos didn’t fully blend and gel in the way other teams did, and were a long way off of what was required in the final leaderboard.

Whether they ape the approach of the likes of Tim Don, or come up with something entirely different remains to be seen. But this is very much a team that needs to start from scratch and see where they get to.

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