Press Pass: Everitt ahead of Clermont
Get the latest from Senior Coach Sean Everitt ahead of Friday night’s EPCR Challenge Cup opener against ASM Clermont Auvergne at Stade Marcel-Michelin (8 December, kick-off 8pm GMT/9pm local) – live on Viaplay.
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On the mood in camp heading into Round 1 of Europe
“Yes, we are in a good place. The team was unfortunate to lose against Benetton, so it was important for us to bounce back. It just shows the character of the group and where they want to be.
“To win at Kingspan is never an easy task, so I’m proud of how the guys stuck to the task. I know we made it difficult towards the end – for me it was just almost like panic set in and maybe a bit of deja vu after losing the last three encounters against them at the death.
“The guys are relieved and I’m just happy for them to have got the result.”
On Darcy Graham’s return
“He trained with the backs this morning, he’ll join in full training on Monday (11th) and will be up for selection next week.”
On switching into Europe after a promising start to the URC
“I’m trying to get the guys to work together in what we’re trying to achieve in the long term. I do understand it’s an important competition. It’s also important for us to finish in the top eight in the URC – that’s our goal, because it allows us to get into the Champions Cup. And that will also remain our goal.
“In saying that, we’ve got a good enough team to challenge for the European Challenge Cup. We see all competitions as important.”
On selection for Europe and resting Scotland players
“Yes, we will be and that’s due to the IPP – the international players can’t play more than five in a row.
“There are certain players who would need to rest now if they were to be available for the two 1872 games.
“It’s the guys who have been playing regularly for us, guys like Jamie Ritchie, Pierre Schoeman, WP Nel and a guy like Grant [Gilchrist] who we feel we can give another week’s rest.
“He’s been carrying quite a big load at the start of the URC due to injuries to Sam [Skinner] and we’re happy with the performance of the locks who played against Ulster on Saturday and I think they deserve another crack.
“I’m not going to give away any secrets but if you look at the loose trio we have, you’ve still got the likes of Luke Crosbie, Hamish Watson, Bill Mata, Ben Muncaster and Connor Boyle to choose from and they’ve done really well in the Edinburgh jersey this season.”
On Sam Skinner’s potential return
“Sam Skinner is doubtful at the moment. The date earmarked for him would be Glasgow on Saturday 30 December, but that will depend on how we go.
“It’s going to be hard to bring a guy straight into the team when he hasn’t been on the training pitch.”
On Duhan van der Merwe’s recovery
“Duhan has recovered and is up for selection this week.”
On Emiliano Boffelli’s return to action
“Emiliano should be joining full training next week but it will be doubtful whether he’s up for selection next week.”
On the challenge of facing Clermont
“With the majority of the guys who played against Ulster being in the mix this weekend we can take a lot of confidence.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to coach against Toulon twice and Toulouse and I know how passionate their supporters are and how intimidating the crowd can be so I think it’s a great experience and it’s good for our youngsters in the group to have that experience of playing in a volatile stadium like Clermont’s.
“They’re on form. The French league is a tough league, they’ve got good players, some of the most expensive players in the world as well.
“Having a look at that game at the weekend, it was close. We’ve obviously had a look at them and we believe we have the ability to turn them over at their home. It’s about being smart.”