Five takeaways from Sean Everitt’s first press conference
With new Senior Coach’s Sean Everitt’s first press conference in the books, we look at five takeaways as the South African sat down with Scottish media for the first time.
He has always been a fan of Edinburgh’s playing style
Sean Everitt was Head Coach of the Sharks when Edinburgh Rugby became the first Northern Hemisphere URC side to win on South African soil when they claimed a 5-21 win at Kings Park in March 2022.
With some scintillating backs play on show from the likes of Blair Kinghorn and Emiliano Boffelli, Everitt saw first-hand how dangerous his new team can be when firing on all cylinders.
“I’ve admired Edinburgh’s rugby for quite a long time, and being involved in coaching against them at King’s Park and doing a lot of work on them and analysis prior to my arrival, they play a really exciting brand of rugby,” said Everitt.
“The philosophy of Edinburgh Rugby is similar to mine. I enjoy their attacking style. I’m an attack-minded coach, although I have coached on the other side of the ball.
“There’s not a hell of a lot that needs to change at Edinburgh. I think there’s a great foundation that has been laid over the last few years. I think Mike Blair has done a good job. But there are small things that need to get fixed.
He thinks the team needs to tighten up defensively while cutting out turnovers
Everitt pointed to the team’s defensive shortcomings last season, where the team – in a small sample of games – gave up more points than they would have hope for. Alongside defence, the team too often invited pressure by conceding tunrovers in the middle of the park. Both areas of the game Everitt is keen to improve on this upcoming campaign.
He said: “If you look at the games where Edinburgh have come short in the last URC campaign, it would probably be from a turnover point of view – turnovers conceded.
“In a game against Saracens, for instance, a game that they lost 30-26, they could easily have won that game had they not conceded as many turnovers. And that seems to be a trend within the group, so we need to tighten up in attack and be more accurate there.
“And then the biggest one for me is defensively, but that’s linked to the turnovers that you concede – if you leak a lot of turnovers you are going to be under the pump from a defensive point of view. So we need to tighten up the defence, because although we scored a lot of tries we also conceded a lot of tries.
“So it’s an area that we’re working on really hard at the moment. The players have been in a long pre-season. I think they’ve been together now for three months. We’ve been working on the fundamentals, and Steve Diamond has led the coaching group really well over that period.”
He wants more consistent goal kicking in 2023/24
With so many tight losses this past season, Everitt has pointed to improved and more consistent goal kicking as an area where the team can improve.
Everitt added: “A lot of people lose sight of is our goal-kicking accuracy. Edinburgh kicked 62 per cent in the URC, so when you’re losing games narrowly, you tend to over-analyse where those faults are, and they’re staring you straight in the face.
“We need to kick 80 per cent plus if you want to challenge for a trophy. We’ve got a lot of good goal-kickers in the squad currently and will have Ben Healy, Emiliano Boffelli and Blair Kinghorn returning from international duty too.”
He is targeting ‘top eight’ in the URC
Edinburgh will be hoping to make it back to the top table of European rugby this upcoming campaign, and to do that, they need to secure a top eight position in the URC. To achieve that wont be easy, with home form key for any side to looking to secure a spot in the play-offs.
Everitt added: “Success for Edinburgh would be to get back into the top eight and qualify for the Champions Cup. I think that would be every URC team’s KPI.
“If we are able to build a good foundation, which we have at the moment, and start the competition well – and there will be challenges for us, with having 16 internationals out for the first two rounds – but that’s the reason why we’ve worked incredibly hard with this young group at the moment.
“The home play-offs would always be our goal. We do see top eight as the major goal, but we’d like to see ourselves challenging for competitions and cups and be at home in semi-finals.”
Edinburgh need to play smarter against South African sides
Edinburgh Rugby lost all four fixtures against South African opposition last year – including home losses to The Sharks and Lions. Everitt believes Edinburgh need to match the South Africans physicality if they are to come out on top in 2023/24.
Everitt added: “I think for me it’s about South African teams are all strong defensively and they are very physical in their approach to the game from a defensive point of view and a set-piece point of view.
“And it’s for us just to be a little bit smarter in how we play and how we manage the game in our own half.”