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July 31, 2008

Glasgow step up preparations for new season

Posted by Editor on July 31, 2008 12:32 AM | No comments | Print | E-mail author

Greg Francis (Hawks) and David Whiteford (Melrose) will travel to France with the Warriors
Glasgow coach Sean Lineen has told his players to expect a tough pre-season training camp in France.

Glasgow fly out today to take part in the XV Challenge Vaquerin - a tournament in memory of the former Beziers and France prop Armand Vaquerin, also featuring Sale, Perpignan, Castres Olympique and Montpellier. Glasgow face Castres Olympique and Beziers respectively on the next two Saturdays.

"I had a little smile yesterday I must admit when the schedules for France were handed out," Sean told The Scotsman. "There was some sharp intake of breath.

"Going to France is fantastic for us, because it provides good competition at a time when the players are itching for serious rugby, and without knocking lumps out of each other; it gives us a chance to experiment and get to grips with the new ELVs (Experimental Law Variations] before we play Bristol at Firhill on 22 August; there's a chance for the coaches to chat with other pro coaches; and a change of scenery and training with the sun of your backs is pretty good for morale.

"But players who thought it might be a little holiday got a shock yesterday. It's going to be very intense, with one-to-one training, sessions in small groups, hard work on individual and group skills, unit work, weight training, and a bit more. They have a week off when we get back, so this will be a tough pre-season camp.

"But everyone will benefit from it. Dan Parks, Kelly Brown and John Barclay won't play in the games, because they're behind in pre-season work after the Scotland tour, but they will train hard, and 33 players will play, including Glasgow Hawks back row Greg Francis and Melrose's David Whiteford, who we're taking a look at.

"It's all focused on getting it right from the start this season. We didn't have too bad a first half of the season last year, but in the season review it was clear that some of us didn't think we could win the first two games against Cardiff and the Ospreys.

"That mindset had changed by the end of the season, but it was too late then. We have a squad of very good players, and I know we can achieve more if they have the belief that they can compete from the start."

With Daryl Gibson heading home to Canterbury to coach the Crusaders, Glasgow are minus a backs coach. Sean is on the lookout for a replacement back, but not a coach as he is happy to do more himself. He also wants senior backs to take a more leading role in mapping out their own plans.

Glasgow are likely to be without Fergus Thomson and James Eddie, until October, leaving Sean frustrated at poor management of their injuries – they only yesterday underwent operations for shoulder injuries suffered at least six weeks ago. Steve Swindall is also touch-and-go to be fit for the pre-season friendlies after injuring a knee on the Scotland A tour.

That does open doors for more native talent to emerge and stake places at senior pro level, but Sean's message to his players three weeks from their first pre-season friendly is that this season is less about development and more focused simply on winning.

"Performance and progress are vital," he insisted, "but gone are the days when Glasgow were underdogs every week, hoping to grab a win every four games to keep our heads above water. Guys like John Barclay and John Beattie re-signed last year until 2010 because they believe they can win things here. They are ambitious young men, and we have a growing number of them, but they said to me they want to win something with Glasgow.

"Losing Daryl will be a blow, but he will leave a legacy of great ideas and practises for our backs to work on and develop. I enjoy a hands-on role, but I'm also a great believer in senior players being given the space and responsibility to develop ideas and push each other and, ultimately, to make it happen for Glasgow.

"Hopefully, we'll see signs of that in France over the next fortnight and when we face Bristol, Gloucester and then the Dragons in the Magners League we'll really be flying."


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