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 Edinburgh's South African double-header away to Cell C Sharks and the Emirates Lions.

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On players selected for SA tour

“It’s a difficult thing to manage, this period, going to South Africa straight after the Six Nations. We’ve got certain directives or players that we have to manage over this three-game period - the two South African games and then the Pau game.

“It’s looking a little bit about the individuals’ needs and a little bit about the team’s needs. For example, we are a little bit light in the back row at the moment, so that’s where Hamish (Watson) comes in.

“We’re keen to get Blair (Kinghorn) a run of games where we can, especially after him starting the game against Ireland as well. There’s no real fixed rule - we’ve just tried to find the best way around everything.

“Pierre (Schoeman) is going to come out with us and we’ll see how he goes this week. He’s obviously got family over in South Africa as well, so he’ll get an element of rest and recuperation out of this.”

On importance of games in SA

“Really important, really important. How we deal with the different style of play, with the weather conditions as well, with the travel - these are all different little challenges that I’ve found this squad have generally dealt with really well and enjoyed the fact that we’re being challenged in different ways and being stressed.

“This is a really important two weeks with the club, with our performance and results on the pitch, but also it’s a great opportunity for us to spend some time together. It’s been difficult the last two and a half seasons with Covid and how you actually spend good time together, but hopefully there should be a good opportunity for us to get a couple of tough games and some good training and some good bonding time as well.”

On SA teams improving

“It’s been a funny set-up to the season. We had the South African teams coming over here and playing to our conditions. They struggled a bit with that but will get better I’m sure. We’ve had some South African experience playing the Kings and the Cheetahs over there. We know it’s going to be tough but it will be a brilliant experience for us. I’ve talked about our resilience and seeing when the pressure’s on how we react. And you see the ones who come through. Whether you’re 20/21 years old or 30/31, these are the guys you look to in these situations so that will be interesting for us to see.”

Team bonding plans

“We’ve got a few things lined up, nothing crazy. We’ll have a couple of braais out there, we’ll have our SA contingent telling us exactly how to cook meat.

“Nothing crazy because rugby is the main focus and getting better is the main focus. I also believe that having that teamship and camaraderie will help us when we’re on the pitch, so it’s important to enjoy each other’s company and if that’s on a beach in the sun all the better.”

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