Press Pass: Blair on Cape Town clash

Press Pass: Blair on Cape Town clash

Get the latest from Head Coach Mike Blair as he spoke with media in the build-up to Saturday's Final Eight clash against DHL Stormers in Cape Town.

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On the size of the match

“I believe it's you guys' (media) job to talk up how big a game it is – we are more focused on how we achieve that outcome to get the result that we want.

“It is something we were very aware of in the lead-up to the Glasgow game last week – not talking about what the outcome, the European qualification, the 1872 Cup, the Scottish-Italian Shield. We were focused on what it took to get to that, not that end result.

“So I will let you use your superlative language to talk that up but we really want to focus on how we are going to get the result as opposed to what the game is about.

“It's really important to play the opposition not the occasion. We have had a good balance about our rugby this season where we have got confidence to play but we have an understanding that you can't do that the whole time.

“It's really important for us to stay relaxed and trust what we are trying to do."

On managing fitness in the squad

“It's something we have been really conscious of during the season. Part of it is looking after players, part of it is giving other players opportunities as well.

“Obviously coming into the tail end of the season, you want to be in every competition. We could have been in a quarter-final, a semi-final and final in Europe and we would have ended up with 12 huge back-to-back games.

“Obviously we were really disappointed with the Wasps result but it did allow us a semi-final week and a final week for the guys to refresh a little bit and go into these games in good spirits physically and mentally as well."

On Stuart McInally

“Stuart made the trip. We are just seeing how he gets through the next couple of days. He has been looking okay at the moment so we will make a decision on that later in the week."

On Edinburgh’s attacking style of play

“What people have picked up on is that Edinburgh are playing more than they have in the last four years. Edinburgh have had success over the past couple of years but from an attacking point of view it was not a priority.

“It was built round a strong defence and a good kicking game. What we have tried to do is expand on that a little bit. I don't think we are Kamikaze, or Barbarians Rugby but we have confidence that when we see opportunity and space we try and take it.

“We are still very aware that balance in the game is very important, especially so in this game.”

On the relevance of Edinburgh’s 20-20 draw with DHL Stormers in Round 3

“I don’t how much relevance. We got off to a very good start and were 14-0 up after the first five minutes or so, then DHL Stormers came right back into it.

“A lot of rugby has been played since then. There will have been some decent turnover in team selections, as well. But there will be a little bit of familiarity, I guess, in terms of what the two teams are trying to do.”

On needing a ‘quick start’ on Saturday

“I think you always have to start games well, especially games away from home. But, yeah, you’ve got to start the game well and then play well the rest of the game, you have to start the second half well, you’ve got to finish the game well.

“These are games against top quality opposition so you’ve got to be on your game as close to 80 minutes as you can.

“I know that’s not strictly possible because there will be ebb and flow in the game, so it is about managing those moments where you’ve got momentum against you, and making the most of when you’ve got momentum for you.”

On the change of scenery and training in Cape Town

“We definitely enjoyed that mid-season in south Africa, when we stayed in Zimbali near Durban. It allowed us to spend time together and refocus on what we were tryinng to do after the Six Nations.

“We’re kind of in the mix so we’re not just in and around the hotel, we can go for coffees or what have you, and really find that balance between relaxing and recovering, but also being on it when we’re training.”

On the DHL Stormers offloading game

“I think that’s probably a stand-out of their game but they’ve obviously got a very strong forward pack with a balance between size, speed and power, and in the backline they have the same sort of combination, so they are going to present a real test to us across the pitch, which we are aware of.”

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