Lawrie looks ahead to Agen

Lawrie looks ahead to Agen

Hear from Assistant Forwards Coach Stevie Lawrie as he spoke with the media ahead of Friday night's Challenge Cup opener against Agen.

On the different dynamic of the Challenge Cup

“It’s an interesting dynamic because, obviously, we are re-integrating the Scottish guys steadily, and the Challenge Cup represents another opportunity for us to do that.

“It also, potentially, offers an opportunity to give other guys a chance, because we recognise that we have this 13-game stretch and we are going to have to utilise our squad.

“The league is absolutely the priority, but it doesn’t affect how we approach this game. The fans get excited about playing in Europe, as do we as coaches and players, so our preparation hasn’t changed.

“It’s exciting. You get to go to France, you get to play different opposition, so it is a little bit different to what we are used to.

On the challenge of Agen

“They’re sitting second bottom in their league and they had a tough result against Bordeaux at the weekend, but I also recognise in their results that they’re very tough at home and they’re very proud.

“So, we’ll be expecting an extremely strong team and then potentially less so for their second pool game [against Wasps the following Saturday] because that gives them a down week before they go back into fighting for their lives in the Top 14. So, I expect them to be strong at home this weekend.

“Who knows though, they might give opportunities to some of their ‘Espoirs’ [academy players], but I certainly won’t be expecting that.”

On facing a Top 14 side

“Certainly, the French Top 14, in terms of our preview … it’s pretty blunt, you are going to have some big men coming hard at you pretty close to the ruck, so we are going to have to match that with our physicality.

“That’s something we’re looking forward to getting our teeth into, and it means there is a bit of a different focus in terms of our preview compared to what we play in the PRO14.

“The start we’ve had to the season has allowed us to do that in terms of guys taking opportunities, we’ve got to be able to trust the guys to get the job done.

“We’ve got a good squad and we recognise the depth of our squad, and that will be represented in the team we pick to go to Agen, and then Bordeaux and then Munster [back in the PRO14], which is a massive game.”

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