Press Pass with Stevie Lawrie
Get the latest from Forwards Coach Stevie Lawrie as he spoke with press in the build up to Friday night's EPCR Challenge Cup match against Pau at DAM Health Stadium (8 April, kick-off 8pm).
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On the Emirates Lions clash and South Africa tour
"We had our opportunities. We played a good game of rugby. It is tough when you get a try rightly disallowed because if we had scored that we would have been right in there. Also we got held up at the end. We had other opportunities but just fell short.
"It's disappointing because we were looking to build on that good win against the sharks the previous week. It was no disgrace the way we played, but it was in our grasp to bring home the points and we fell short.
"On the way back we were just saying how productive it was to get away to the heat, to get to group together. We had loads of informal meetings with players. I used the time to get to know the backs. I think I met just about every one of them on an individual basis, which was brilliant.
"Although we lost the second game, it was an opportunity to integrate the national players back into the side. I believe we managed both groups of players well. I believe we have come back in a good place and a good headspace to kick on for the run-in.
"Speaking to all the coaches, even if they have taken a bit of a hiding out there, it has been worthwhile just to get the guys together, have a different stimulus and a different place to train.
"The warm weather is really good from that point of view and the guys have had a bit of downtime in it as well. It couldn't have come at a better time, and getting the five points means we have something tangible to build on."
On facing Pau
“It is really important that we win the game. We want to get that home draw in the last 16. We want to be playing at the DAM and that's where our focus is. Pau are going really well in the top 14 and they have had good wins of late against the likes of Bordeaux and Biarritz. They have loads of threats.
“We note Jordan Joseph well because he was involved in the massacre at Racing last year and got man of the match. They have a good centre in [Tamua] Manu and they play an excellent brand of rugby. We know how tough it is going to be but we're looking forward to getting your teeth into them.
“They can still qualify, they are on give points just now and why wouldn’t they want to go to the knock-out of Europe. So, we’re preparing for the very best squad, and it is important that we’ve got that mind-set that we are there to play the very best version of Pau.
“I believe they will send a very strong squad because they are safe from the drop in the Top14, or just about, and also they want to keep their recent run of games going.”
On the opportunity to secure a Round of 16 tie
“We’re proud of our record at home but we recognise that our focus is purely on Pau. The competition is structured as such that obviously you get the advantage of you can get that home last 16 game and win that, then get the home-quarter.
"But we’ll be focussed on a game at time – I know that is a bit cliched, but it really is the case. To put ourselves in the best position to win the comp we need to win on Friday to get that home last 16 slot.
"There are going to be some difficult discussions within that because there is a lot of competition in a lot of places. How we manage the squad and how we get the best from the guys who are not in the 23 is really important so that they apply themselves and help to prepare the guys who are playing. It's not easy.
"Sometimes when you are not involved you hope that the person in your position is rubbish but the team wins. It is a tough dynamic when not selected. We are going to have some tough decisions. But we have won games where we have mixed up the squad and we believe that whoever we call upon is match ready to do the job.
"The run-in is really exciting. The number of home games we potentially have is exciting as well. We can welcome the fans in and get the results for them."
On injuries and players returning
“There’s nobody new. A couple of guys being assessed. When you get off a long-haul flight, I think it is important that you let the bumps and bruises settle, so we’ll just have to wait and see – but I have no concerns over anybody at the moment from the game at the weekend.
“Luke Crosbie is progressing well, Nick Haining and Damien Hoyland, these guys are all touch and go over the next couple of weeks, so we’ll hopefully be able to welcome them back. Mesu is not a long-term injury so we’re hoping he’s going to be right over the next few weeks as well.
“It is great for the run-in because we’re going to need bodies.”
On the potential of a ‘Home Run’ at DAM Health Stadium
“We hope so. In terms of fans and the Edinburgh public, you want to create a bit of momentum, because sometimes the league can be a bit bitty – and we’ve not had a home game for a wee while now – so you want to have a bit of continuity for the fans.
"So, it is almost like there is an onus on us to make sure that we do win and we continue to win, so that we can start building that momentum at home.
“I don’t know why, it is a rectangle of grass or synthetic grass depending on which way you look at it, but home advantage seems to make a difference. That’s undoubtedly down to the fans and the atmosphere they create.
“So, yes, I think it is important that we start well on Friday with a ‘W’ and then progress from there with a few more, to make sure we are packing in the fans in what will hopefully be play-off rugby.”
On bringing knockout rugby to the capital for the fans
“We want to be bringing play-off rugby to the DAM, that’s really important.
“We’ve done it in fits and starts. Previous to last year, we had a home quarter-final against Munster, I was at that game as a spectator, it was fantastic. You think about Toulouse in that Heineken Cup run when we eventually went to the semi-final. If that can become more regular.
"And I think also for the confidence and belief of the group as well. You’ve got to be in knock-out games to go on and win the comp, so the more we are in them, the more chance you have of going on and picking one off to actually win the thing.
“That’s what Glasgow did. They were consistently in semis, then in finals and then won the final. So, you’ve got to be in it to win it. You have to be competing at that level consistently to have a realistic expectation of getting over the line.”