Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Wasps at Sixways (kick-off 3.00pm).
Here’ what Jonathan had to say:
On the draw at Newcastle
- The weekend threw up a lot of challenges for us with the postponement from Friday, having to stay an extra night in the hotel who hadn’t catered for us to be there so there were challenges around nutrition and food for the players.
- Then, on the Saturday, we had snow and it was bitterly cold but at our meeting before we left the hotel we talked about our Warrior Mindset and having a no excuses mentality.
- We have all been in situations like that where you have a long bus journey home having been on the wrong end of a result and you say: it’s the journey, it’s the food. We were determined not to make any excuses about our preparation and the difficult circumstances.
- I was really pleased with the attitude of the players who came out owned it and got stuck into a Newcastle side that won at Exeter two weeks before and who were pretty much full strength. We had quite a few players out injured as well.
- You are never going to be completely satisfied with a draw and we did have opportunities to win the game. We operated off little territory and possession so we can’t get too greedy.
On the recent improved form
- The win against Sale was a big result for us. The win got a bit of a monkey off our back.
- In the last three games pretty much all of our squad have got some game time which good for the group and there is a good vibe in the camp.
- But we have achieved nothing yet so we are not getting too far ahead of ourselves. We know that there is still growth in the squad and it’s important that we keep momentum going.
There must be a lot of confidence in the squad now
- I believe in the old saying that you are only as good as your last game. You have to roll up your sleeves every week and fight as if it was your first.
- Where you get confidence from is your training week and how you prepare. If you cross the Ts and dot the Is as an individual and as part of the team and train above game intensity that gives you the confidence.
- It can be dangerous to think: we are confident now because we have had a couple of wins because that’s where complacency then sets in.
- It’s about hitting re-set on a Monday and saying: Ok we got a draw and these are things we did well in our last game. But there are also growth opportunities and we need to go out and train them.
- They have had their own injury problems to contend with this season, that hasn’t been lost on us, and I feel for Lee Blackett.
- But even with the players they have out they have still been able to put out a good team and they have some good athletes. Any team with good athletes is always going to be dangerous no matter who they play.
- They are strong in the contact area. We have to make sure we are fully prepared and it’s going to be an exciting test.
- Winning at home is a non-negotiable for us. From my experience coaching at Bristol, Sixways was always a tough place to play at.
- We want to keep visiting teams honest and make Sixways an uncompromising place to come for them.
On Steve Diamond’s arrival as Lead Rugby Consultant
- It has been quite a natural, easy process because of Steve and the man he is. He has been in rugby environments for a long time.
- He came in for a 7am meeting with the coaches on Monday and he talked about what he thinks he can bring to the club.
- Part of that is just getting to know people initially and to observe for the next couple of weeks to see where he can add value.
- In terms of the relationship side of things he’s a really easy bloke to get on with. It’s been good to have someone with his experience in the league here.
- It’s good to have him in the environment because he does have good experience as a Director of rugby in this league which is a real positive for us.
On comments in Eddie Jones’ book about Ollie Lawrence
- I’ve no read Eddie’s book so I can’t comment on that. All that I can comment on the Ollie Lawrence I know from working this environment in the 18 months that I have been here.
- Throughout that time Ollie has been part of the England squad and going into England camps has been good for him.
- Being involved in England camps takes you to another level in terms of your standards and your training. When Ollie comes back from England camps he leads by example with everything around his work-rate, his kick chase. Everything that doesn’t require talent has gone to a different level.
- He’s also matured as a person and he is now part of our leadership group. He wants to add value to the leadership group on and off the field.
- Ollie is incredibly passionate about playing for this club and he has even played through injury. He missed the Northampton game with a grade two calf tear, an injury that was expected to keep him out for several weeks.
- But he knocked on my door the following week saying that he wanted to play for the team against Sale which he did.
- Ollie is just 22 and he is not the finished article. He’s a young man with real talent. Life is all about experiences and growing from your experiences. He adds real value in this environment and we are glad to have him here.
- Alex Hearle has a dead leg and is unlikely to be fit this weekend.
- Gareth Simpson suffered a bang to the ribs at Newcastle and we will make a late call on him.
- Perry Humphreys needed a head injury assessment at Newcastle and he is another player that we will make a late call on.
- Jamie Shillcock came off with a tight groin at Newcastle and will be another late call.
- Marc Thomas suffered a foot injury and he is going to be out for a few weeks.
- Duhan van der Merwe came back from Scotland duty with a stiff neck which meant he missed out at Newcastle. He will be fit this weekend.
- Melani Nanai is fully fit again.
- Ollie Lawrence is fit and will be back in contention this weekend.
- Rory Sutherland is fit and will be back in contention against Wasps.
- Willi Heinz will not be fit this weekend.
- Owen Williams is recovering well from surgery on his torn hamstring. He won’t be back before the end of January but we are confident that the surgery will reduce the risk of him suffering a recurrence.
- Chris Ashton is not available for selection.