Press Pass with Michael Todd
Get the latest from Defence Coach Michael Todd as he spoke with media in the build up to Saturday's BKT URC Round 2 match against Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria (24 September, kick-off 1.30pm BST/ 2.30pm local).
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On the Dragons RFC win
“I think it was a solid start. I didn’t really know what to expect, to be honest – I hadn’t seen some of the guys play live since I’ve arrived.
“In the two pre-season games I started building and chipping away at certain things, and in each game new players came back, so I’m starting to see what it looks like. It was a solid start overall, I’d say.”
On what needs to improve against Vodacom Bulls
“I think the contact area has to improve massively. It’s going to be a very physical game, obviously we probably can’t match their size kg for kg, but technically we need to better and we can match them in that area. We’ll put our best foot forward.”
On what message it would send if Edinburgh win on Saturday
“It would be a big milestone for us. Being away, I know how hard it is to come here and win, particularly in Pretoria.
“So for us it would be a massive boost, but again, it’s a long year ahead, so we’ll see how we go.”
On his aims for the season
“Overall aims is probably to go one step better than last season. For me, it’s implementing a couple of different things defensively, which hopefully can lead to those extra wins. Yeah, one better really.”
On his early impressions of the Edinburgh squad
“First impressions: I’m really loving it. Really good group, really humble hard-working people.
“I think the club matches what I’m about in terms of values and what I see as important, and I’ve been very welcomed to the place along with my family. So it’s only been good things so far.”
On working with Mike Blair
“He’s a very intelligent man. Very hard-working, wants the best out of you, will challenge you and also likes to be challenged, which I think is important.
“He’s very open to ideas and innovations. He’s great to work with – I’m really enjoying his view on the game and how he approaches it.”
On what sort of challenge Edinburgh face in South Africa
“No surprise, it will be a physical challenge. The conditions are probably a bit warmer than we’re used to at this time of the year, so that’ll add to it. But the physical side of things, man to man, will be the biggest challenge.”
On the difference between Edinburgh players and those in southern hemisphere?
“The teams are probably younger in Queensland and there’s a bit more rugby per season over here, so they are further along in their development and their playing age.
“It’s maybe a little bit more detailed up here, obviously more teams, more challenges and styles, and you’ve got to adapt to that.”
On whether defence is a mindset, especially against SA teams
“100 per cent. You can be the biggest team and not pitch up on the day and the smaller, agile team could take you for a run, so I definitely think attitude is everything.
“At this level you’ve got to be up for it every week, you’ve got to prepare well and look after yourself well just to be able to put out your best performance. It’s small margins.”
On working with Bill Mata
“I’d watched him play sevens and then recently I’ve just come over from the Pacific Nations Cup with Australia ‘A’ and seen what the national Fijian team can bring.
“I think as a player he is a very humble, hard-working man who wants to put his best foot forward and contribute as much as he can to the team.
“It’s probably in tune with the values of the team and how they see themselves; hard-working and he’ll do what’s needed for the team. I’m delighted he’s on my side, that’s for sure.”