Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Sale Sharks at Sixways (kick-off 3.00pm).
Here’s what Jonathan had to say:
On Friday’s performance against Northampton Saints
- After the last three results and performances everyone at the club is hurting.
- In those three games we haven’t reflected all the good work that was done in pre-season. After the first three rounds of matches we were the highest points scorers in the Premiership so there was not too much wrong with our attacking game at that point.
- In the last three rounds there have been a number of factors why it has been so disappointing. There are absolutely no excuses from our end. We take full ownership of the situation, it’s not acceptable to lose by those scorelines.
- There have been a few repeated messages in our reviews over the last few weeks which suggests that we have not been learning from our mistakes. This week we changed the review process up so the players reviewed it themselves, overseen by the coaches. They reviewed it as an alignment and leadership group and fed back to each other.
- What we saw at that Monday morning meeting was real disappointment and a real passion to try to fix it, put it right and to represent themselves in a much better way this weekend.
- The players have been working really hard in training, as they always do. There is no doubt that when you lose by the scorelines that we have, when you have the injuries that we have had and when you have new combinations as we have that your confidence takes a bit of a hit. Your confidence and mindset are massive as a professional athlete.
How much have injuries to members of the leadership group had an impact?
- Pretty much all of our leadership group are injured. The thing that helps chemistry and combinations and a little bit of soul on the field is chat and talk. We have been very, very quiet on the field.
- When you are not performing you can go a little bit quiet and a lot of what we are doing is through a lack of some of those connections.
- When I was asked to be Head Coach back in January I knew the size of the task. It’s not a surprise to me that we are going through some tough times.
- I was honest with the owners about the size of the task. It was going to be a re-building job.
- The club have talked about Time For Change and sometimes going through change can be tough. You don’t just come out with a hashtag slogan and, abracadabra, everything is rosy.
- There are a lot of good things going on behind the scenes at the club. There have been changes in the infrastructure, in the support staff, coaching, conditioning staff etc. which will all help us come through the tough period that we are in at the moment.
On Sale Sharks
- We have played against three sides who are very confident and they have punished us. They have been quite ruthless in the way that they have done that.
- But it really is about us and just doing the basics well and having the mindset to be physical and relentless and execute your job under pressure and a bit of adversity.
- The players have worked incredibly hard this week. They just need to believe in themselves.
- Ollie Lawrence missed the Northampton game after he pulled up after training with what we thought was just cramp. But a scan showed he has a grade two tear in a calf. Ollie is optimistic that he will be fit for the weekend but we will make a further assessment on Thursday.
- Willi Heinz got squashed a bit in a tackle and suffered a groin injury at Exeter. He tweaked it again after training last week so he also pulled out at the weekend. Willi won’t be available this weekend.
- Ashley Beck has trained today and he will come into contention this weekend.
- Sam Lewis was a bit sore after Northampton but we are confident that he will come through.
- Ted Hill is available again having completed his suspension.
- Matt Garvey has trained well today and he is available for selection.
- Chris Ashton is unavailable for selection this weekend.
Do you have an update on the representations you were going to make to World Rugby following Ted’s suspension after he was sent off against Gloucester?
- We had no issue with the judicial process, it was all about the tip tackle framework.
- We went through the official channels and I had a really good Zoom conversation with Joe Schmidt, World Rugby’s Director of Rugby He’s a good rugby man, he’s been a world-class coach and he gets it.
- It was great to have the opportunity to speak to Joe and for him to hear our frustrations. He can go and give feedback through the appropriate channels at World Rugby.
- He was pretty understanding about our frustrations and I think he is aware that there some inconsistencies with the tip tackle framework at the moment.
- Where I do have confidence in World Rugby and the interpretation of the laws at the moment is that it is all about making the game better, safer and better
- There is a lot of good work going on at World Rugby but certainly the tip tackle framework is one of the things that needs to be looked at.