Press Pass with Mike Blair

Press Pass with Mike Blair

Get the latest from Head Coach Mike Blair as he spoke with press in the build up to Friday's EPCR Challenge Cup Round 4 clash with Brive at DAM Health Stadium.

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On Saturday's loss

"We were frustrated. I don't think we played to the levels we expected. Straight after the game I was frustrated with the way it had gone and how we had put ourselves in a position to win it and let it go. But at the same time, we didn't play at our best but we were playing against London Irish team who were fully loaded selection wise, who were playing at home, who are going pretty well in the premiership.

"We were six points up with 20 min to go and then they had the red card. We've put ourselves in a good position and we want to see these games out, but I also want to be balanced. We have won tight games through good play, good defence or doing something well at the end of the game. You can't win all of them. We are certainly frustrated that we didn't win it because we weren't position to win it, but it is a great game to learn from.

"We reviewed the game and that game management decisions, not just by the nine and 10 but across-the-board. We were identifying where we had London Irish under pressure and then want to keep the foot on the throat and keep punishing them in that area. Don't go away from it. If you are beating them at something then don't get bored with it and stick with it.

"There are different ways to win games. Against Cardiff we played a really high tempo game - the ball was dry and we were getting a lot of front foot ball. For the Saracens game it was really wet so we had to go to more of kicking and pressure game with strong defence.

"Against London Irish I thought our set piece went well. When we had possession inside the 22 we were coming out with points and contestable kicking game was going well. Finding that, identifying that, it's an area where you can really go after a team and punish them so we will learn from that."


On returning home

"The non-23 and staff did a brilliant job at the Cardiff game. I know this sounds weird but it was almost one of the best atmospheres because it was jumping and it was just a good party atmosphere.

“If we can get 6,500 people rather than 75 people doing that you can just imagine the noise. It will make it a really difficult place to come and play. We’re really keen to get a big crowd in and get them behind us again.

“For us, it’s important we build on what happened at the weekend and learn our lessons. We’re really keen to get back out in front of a really big crowd at the DAM Health and show what we can do.”


On the approach for Brive

"The thing that has probably changed these two games a little bit has been the cancellation or postponement of the two Glasgow games. Guys who potentially would have played in those Glasgow games we could have given them a bit of a rest at this stage, but we feel we have international players available and we need them to get game time.

"That's probably affected these games a little bit. From last week into this week, the plan was always to give a few different players an opportunity in the jersey. We are aware we can’t do it with everyone and some guys will be really disappointed.


On facing his former club

"I think there are two or three players still there from when I was there - Thomas Laranjeira and Saïd Hireche… I think it’s just them. Then all the coaching staff bar Jeremy Davidson all played, so Jean-Baptiste Pejoine, Arnaud Mela, and Goderdzi Shvelidze all played there at the same time as me.

“I loved my year at Brive. I still regret my attitude because part of my motivation for going to France was just to go somewhere different and learn French. I was only 31 at the time but I’d convinced myself that I was an older player and, while not on the way out, I had already decided I was not going to play for Scotland after the November tests and I regret not really going at it and setting standards."

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