Press Pass with Stevie Lawrie
Get the latest from Forwards Coach Stevie Lawrie as he spoke with press in the build up to Saturday's EPCR Challenge Cup clash with London Irish at the Brentford Community Stadium.
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On fans coming back
I think it’s great. We’ve got Brive next weekend, so we can put in a wee call to arms for the crowds to come out and try and fill the DAM Health. So that’s exciting.
It’s brilliant. It was really weird at the weekend - it was a bit strange playing again in front of no fans. The players just thrive off that vibe, so hopefully we can get it full for next weekend.
On team discipline
Discipline is key. I think you’ve got to strike the balance - I think there’s a stat that tells you the most disciplined teams don’t always win games of rugby - so you’ve got to find a balance between competing and making sure you’re on the edge and giving away intelligent penalties versus the dull ones that are the coach-killers. We’re trying to avoid them and we want more of the acceptable ones.
I saw something on social media about our defensive discipline. It’s something that we’re aware of, so it’s massive.
You want to have 15 players on the field. It’s something we train for. We also train for when guys get yellow-carded obviously, but you’ve got to be acutely aware that discipline is an important thing.
On the forward pack
I think we’ve probably played with a bit more width and we’ve scored from a little bit further out than we have done previously. However, there have been games where our scrum - look at Saracens away and Bulls at home - has really fronted up and that has given up the opportunity to either kick goals or kick deep into their half and have a lineout drive at them.
So although the [majority of] tries maybe haven’t come in that way, we’ve scored from driven mauls at key moments and I think there is more balance to our game this year.
You need to have a good platform and we’ve spoken about the importance of our strikes and our lineout functioning, so I think they’ve complemented each other. We’re not lopsided in any way and we work just as hard as we have done previously on our set-piece.
I thought the forwards, in their carries, battered Cardiff at the weekend. You saw the likes of Maggie, then Nick Haining coming on, Jamie with some really good footwork and Mish doing his thing. I thought we carried well and that’s all part of it for the forward pack.
On Bradbury's form
Sometimes you have a wee dip in form. I love Magnus and he’s a great guy to coach because he’s daft and he’s mad. He’s serious when he needs to be serious but he’s a lot of fun. He’s a bit like me, he’s a bit of a kid at heart, but when it comes to the rugby he’s serious.
I’m excited around his ball-carrying. We’re trying to get him animated about his carries, using his fend and not just his bumper-barring, but using his footwork. He’s a serious physical presence. He gets over the gainline and I think he has played really, really well this year.
So it’s exciting. He’s obviously got aspirations to get back into that Scotland team and I’m pleased he’s doing a really good job for Edinburgh. With Bill Mata being injured we’ve got Magnus and Nick Haining and it shows the depth that we’re fortunate to have at the club in that position.
On keeping the whole squad happy
Through selection and through the ethos at the club. They’re a very tight knit group and they work well together through giving opportunities to lead. But ultimately they want to play so we’ve got to try to create opportunities for them to play.
I think there are only two or three members of the squad who haven’t seen the field yet this season. It’s something we’re really aware of when we go into selection meetings - how engaged is everybody? And how valuable does everybody feel within the environment?
On focussing on the Challenge Cup
I’d probably look at performances like Dragons away that would suggest we’ve got a squad we can trust. It means we can give opportunities and reward people who have been training really hard in a Covid climate and have not been able to play as much rugby.
It’s something that we’re acutely aware of as coaches in selection. Yes, you want to roll out your perceived first team, but also you’ve got to look at the bigger picture. We’re going to lose people during the Six Nations, so it’s about integrating the squad and making sure that no matter who comes in, we can trust them and get the balance right.
On London Irish
They’re doing very well. They love to throw the ball about. It’s really good to see Kyle Rowe doing well down there - he left us at the end of last season and I think he’s been a revelation for them.
Most of their games have been high-scoring affairs, so that’s quite exciting with both teams going at it.