Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Gloucester Rugby at Sixways (kick-off 3.00pm).
Here’s what Jonathan had to say:
How excited is everyone about playing in front of a big derby crowd at Sixways again?
- My last game of rugby as a player was here against Bristol in the second leg of the Championship play-off final against Bristol in 2015.
- That was the last time I experienced a full house at Sixways. Since I have returned here as a coach the majority of matches have been played without crowds so it will be brilliant just to feel and experience the noise and atmosphere again.
- We have a fantastic stadium, derby games are always special and Gloucester are always well supported.
- Games like this are what the Gallagher Premiership is all about and it is why everyone loves the competition.
Does having a number of players who have played for Gloucester recently give you an advantage?
- Form goes out of the window in derby games.
- We don’t yet know whether Louis Rees-Zammit is going to be back for Gloucester. But they have speed out wide, some physical guys up front and it’s always a tough game against them.
- Having players like Willi Heinz, Owen Williams and Matt Garvey, who have all played for Gloucester, adds some extra spice but for us it’s about what we do as a collective rather than individuals.
On taking two bonus points from the Harlequins match
- We are never going to be satisfied with losing a game. We have high expectations of ourselves as a group and we have talked a lot about having a Warrior mindset, fighting to the very end and never giving up.
- I was really proud of the character the group showed on Saturday against a side that has scored tries for fun this year.
- It was Quins’ first home match since they won the title so there was a carnival atmosphere and it was going to be a tough test for a new group to go there.
Are you surprised how quickly the new combinations in the side have gelled?
- We have only played two matches. We have got seven points from a possible ten but we are not getting carried away.
- Everyone in the camp is realistic about where we are. We know that not everything is going to be plain sailing.
- At the start of pre-season we were raw as a group with a lot of new players and members of staff. Building relationships was important and we have put a lot of work into that.
On Ollie Lawrence withdrawing from England’s training camp
- Ollie was unwell on Saturday evening and so he was withdrawn from the camp purely as a precaution.
- He had a PCR test which came back negative and he is feeling much better today.
- We expect him to be fit and available to play at the weekend.
- Melani Nanai had a sore Achilles after the London Irish game. He came off the bench at Harlequins and made a huge impact. It’s an injury that will be subject to on-going assessment.
- There are five players who will make a call on on Thursday – Duhan van der Merwe, Rory Sutherland, Chris Ashton, Sione Vailanu and Andrew Kitchener. They all trained today and brought great energy to the session.