Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Friday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens (kick-off 7.45pm).
Here’s what Jonathan had to say:
On the Leicester Tigers match
- I thought that Leicester’s performance was one of the most complete I have seen for a very long time. They had a really good balance around the accuracy of their tactical kicking versus their physicality around the collisions. From one to 23 it was an unbelievably complete performance so you have to congratulate the opposition.
- We are extremely disappointed. Rugby is about pressure and exerting pressure and we have not done that in the last two games.
- We spoke last week about the Exeter game and the opportunities we didn’t take in the first half. In this game, Leicester had their hands on our throat for the first 40 minutes. They dominated the kicking battle which eventually gave them territory and possession and we struggled to get out of our own half.
- In the second half we made one or two tactical changes at half-time which gave eventually us territory and possession which led to periods of sustained attack in their half. They had a yellow card and we had opportunities which we didn’t take.
- The game looks very different if you come out and score first and go from 22-3 to 22-10, then it’s game on.
- We scored quite a lot of points in the first three rounds. There’s nothing wrong with our ability to attack. In the last two games it has been our ability to exert pressure or sustain pressure on the opposition either through our unforced errors or very good play from the opposition.
What have you focused on this week?
- When you lose a few games in the fashion we have it’s just about stripping back a little bit.
- We came together as a group in pre-season and what you try to do is add layers to a new group. It’s a bit like building a new house, you put in the foundations and try and build it from there.
- That’s what we have done and we have done it pretty well up until round three. You have to strip back a bit and focus on a few aspects of the game where you want to be effective.
- It has been evolution with Saints since Chris Boyd came in. Around 18 months ago they were probably in a similar situation to us.
- They went on a long losing run but since then what they have done well is bring through some good young players. They have clearly got some good athletes in their pack, and they have a clear identity about how they want to play the game. They play exciting rugby and they are a well-coached team.
- We are expecting a fast game. I think the weather is going to be OK, it’s a good playing surface at Franklin’s Gardens and we anticipate that they will try to move the ball and play some entertaining rugby. We have to make sure that we are ready for that.
- Melani Nanai will miss the remainder of this block of games because of his hamstring injury.
- Owen Williams has had surgery on his torn hamstring and I don’t think we are going to see him until after Christmas.
- Beck Cutting is recovering from an elbow injury and is hoping to be back at the start of December.
- Chris Ashton is unavailable for selection this weekend.
On Ted Hill and Ollie Lawrence missing out on England selection
- We are really disappointed for them. When you are a young man and you get a little taste of international action – it’s your dream when you are growing up – you just want more of it.
- Eddie Jones gave them both positive feedback. There’s an unbelievable amount of talent in England in the country and so much strength in depth in English rugby.
- Selection is quite subjective. There’s no right or wrong.
- But both Ted and Ollie are fine young men and I’m sure that they both have good international futures ahead of them.
How strong do you think the Gallagher Premiership is at the moment?
- I firmly believe this is the most competitive Premiership I have ever seen. Every team from one to 13 is capable of beating any other team on their day. There is great talent in every team in the competition and the way the game is being refereed is lending itself to attack.
- You are seeing people scoring try bonus points every weekend. Eight to ten years ago try bonus points were a rarity but you are seeing big high-scoring contests and try bonus points most weekends now.
- The way the game is being refereed and the way the laws are being interpreted is allowing more attack. Every squad is well coached and well conditioned and there is some good talent there. So it’s all making for a really exciting competition.