Press Pass: Blair on recruitment and rising to challenges
Get then latest from Head Coach Mike Blair ahead of Saturday's BKT URC clash against Zebre Parma with this week's Glen Moray Press Pass
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On recruitment at the club
“The recruitment in Scottish rugby is more intricate than English rugby because we are owned by a common owner. We have a number of different people involved in the recruitment process.
“The bit I probably found a little bit harder was that period between Matt Cornwell leaving and Dave Bassett coming in [as Head of rugby Operations].
“That meant myself and Douglas Struth were more involved in the numbers side of things. The beauty of having Dave Bassett now is that he came up from Wasps and is a really experienced technician of recruitment.
“He understands the big picture, budgets, and it kind of means that we can say ‘these are the kind of guys we’re looking at – can you get them’.
“We obviously have input from upstairs as well. There is no ruling on how many overseas players you can have, but if you have three overseas nines then that is not going to work.
“Or they might suggest players through the data collection they do. For me it is something new but the support network around me helps to take the pressure off.”
On the challenges of the role
I was interested in the comments after the Glasgow game where I said I was finding the job a challenge – interested that that’s been taken as a negative.
“I don’t see a challenge as being a negative, I see it as being an opportunity to show what you can do. Me saying the job is a challenge is not a cry for help or anything.
This job is a challenge and we’ve got to do some work to get better. A challenge is a positive thing – it focuses the mind.
“I had a couple of messages from people to ask if I was okay. I told them that of course things are a challenge and had they tried being a Head coach. It’s not a negative thing, it’s a positive driver.”
On being reflective in the role
“The advice I’ve been given by people I respect is mainly around being true to myself. My authenticity is around energy and enthusiasm, having a smile on my face.
“At times it is difficult to do that because I get caught up in the detail of what I’m doing or the result.
“I’m becoming more and more conscious that I need to keep being authentic to how I am. That was aa big driver to our success last season – the confidence and belief.
“I still have that 100 percent but I need to keep projecting it so the players see it and everyone else sees it as well.
“I did manage to switch off at New Year. It’s a work-on. On Saturday I managed to not open my laptop at all. I wanted to enjoy time with the family. On Sunday I was right back in it.”
On players returning from injury
“We’re hopeful that Dave Cherry will be back. He did a full week of training last week and got through today OK, so he’s back in available for selection. Adam McBurney won’t be far off – he’s cut a bit of time off his original rehab.
“This has been a tough block and a really testing and challenging block – challenging in a positive way. We’re getting to see our players against quality opposition and we’re having to deal with some adversity as well.
“This is good for the group. Things have come out this week that, had we scraped a win, we might not have addressed them. And I believe that for the long-term growth of the group, things that have come out this week have been really important.”
On reflecting as a playing group
“I’d say we’re a pretty honest group anyway. It certainly wasn’t a crisis meeting, it was looking at our game and saying ‘What are we comfortable with?’ And we’re comfortable with a huge amount of our game.
“But there are little, two-, three-percenters that are preventing us from winning the game. We said every game since the autumn we could and should have won.
“That’s been against really strong opposition, so we’re doing a lot of stuff right, and we’re just looking at a little bit of the detail of what we can get better. A lot of that is around ourselves, and individual prep and expectations.”