Press Conference Notes 17.03.21

Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Bath Rugby at The Rec (kick-off 2.00pm).

Here’s what Jonathan had to say:

On the recruitment of Kyle Hatherell from Jersey Reds

  • Rugby players come in all shapes and sizes and they also come through different routes.
  • Kyle is someone that has slipped through the net but he has done a good job for Jersey over the last three years and he is one of the stand-out players in the Championship.
  • I played and coached in the Championship so I know what a tough league it is.
  • The gap between Championship and Premiership is not as big as some people think. Physically it is a very tough and uncompromising league.
On Francois Hougaard joining Wasps for next season
  • Francois has been a real talisman for the club over the last five years and he has helped to get us out of trouble on a number of occasions.
  • Big players are those that sacrifice themselves and also improve those around them which is what Francois has done.
  • He leaves on good terms, he’s had some good times here and he knows that he will always be welcome back at Sixways.
  • The salary cap is coming down by almost £2 million next season so that is more of a juggling act than is usual but have already signed two experienced scrum-halves in Willi Heinz and Will Chudley and we also have Gareth Simpson who has developed well this season.
On the performance at London Irish
  • Against Bristol we emptied the tank physically and mentally but we challenged the players to repeat that performance on Sunday.
  • The club has never had 70 per cent in a game before and physically, the players put in another huge shift on Sunday.
  • All of us are really disappointed that we were not able to nail that game and we want to change the narrative.
  • There is no easy solution. It’s about hard work and doing the right things in training on improving key areas. Working under fatigue and improving fine motor skills doesn’t happen overnight.
On the cancellation of this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup
  • We are disappointed the competition is not going ahead. We have a lot of young players who are chomping at the bit to player.
  • Some clubs have smaller squads and there are player safety issues that have to be considered.
  • But the last 12 months has been about the ability to adapt to COVID and we now need to adapt and look at how we give our young players opportunities to play.
  • That might be loaning players out to Championship clubs but we will also look at opportunities for playing them in the first team.
  • We need to be bold and expose our young players to first team rugby.
  • There will be some opportunities for them in the first team, we won’t shy away from giving them a chance.
Injuries
  • Jamie Shillcock missed last week because of a back injury but we are hopeful that he will be available this weekend.
  • Chris Ashton is going through his HIA return-to-play protocols and we hope that he will also be fine to play at Bath.
  • Beck Cutting turned an ankle in training today.
  • Cornell du Preez is training Scotland this week and we will wait to see whether he is involved against Italy this weekend.
On Ollie Lawrence’s Six Nations campaign with England
  • I don’t walk in Eddie Jones’ shoes so I am not going to comment on the reasons why Ollie hasn’t played more.
  • We would have loved Ollie to have had more opportunities because we believe in Ollie and we believe that he would be a real threat at international level.
  • Eddie Jones had reasons for doing what he did after the Scotland match but it was no fault of Ollie’s because he didn’t get much ball in that first game.
  • Like all young men, Ollie wants to play as much as possible. He has a big future and there is plenty of rugby for him to play in the remainder of this season.