With an extra week to prepare for the next Gallagher Premiership fixture against Exeter, we caught up with Todd Blackadder to reflect on Saracens, depth in squad and more.
On victory against Saracens
I’m really pleased for the players. The really pleasing thing is we bounced back after two losses to beat Saracens, who everybody knows are a top-quality team. We need to continually learn quickly and I think we take a lot of confidence from the game and look to build on it.
Zach Mercer I thought was a stand out on the weekend - he brings his physical presence as well as his footwork. I thought Elliott Stooke had his best game for a long time – physically I thought that he carried well and he gave us some good go forward.
Levi (Douglas) it was his first Premiership start this season and he did really well and Miles (Reid) was really good over the ball and made some really good decisions. He took his opportunity and think he will take a lot of confidence from the game.
DEPTH IN THE SQUAD
The older players need to be hungry because there are some good, young players coming through and everyone is pushing for places. What you really want is that competitiveness for the jersey - it not only helps your own mind-set but it helps you prepare to play well at the weekend. We have got some really good issues coming up.
THE RETURN OF THE INTERNATIONALS
It will be good to have the boys back in the mix (from England). The other thing it does is that there is no more disruption for us in terms of camps, which means good competition for spots. As far as I’m concerned, we can blaze our way to the end of the season, but we're focused on the top four.
INJURIES AND RETURNS
Josh (Bayliss) and Paul (Grant) are unfortunately out for the rest of the season after having shoulder surgery, which is a blow. Also on the weekend, it was Jackson Willison’s fourth HIA this season. He’s seen a specialist, but there are no major effects there. We take concussion very seriously, so he too is going to miss the remainder of the campaign.
On the plus side, we’ve got some great depth there in the midfield with JJ (Jonathan Joseph), Jamie (Roberts), Max (Wright) and Max (Clark). We’ve also got Cooper Vuna and James Wilson, who’s nearing a comeback who can play there too. This will be an opportunity for those to step up and put their best foot forward.
Both Sam (Underhill) and Francois (Louw) have been cleared for the Exeter game, which was when Tom Ellis was due to return. We managed to get him back a few weeks earlier, which was the silver lining really. We’ve got some depth and some boys returning which is great.
I think Beno (Obano) has come on really well since he’s been back. He brings some energy and I’m sure in the next few weeks we’ll continue to see more from him.
ON THE CHALLENGE POSED BY EXETER CHIEFS
It’s about executing our strategy and skill sets out there. I thought we had a solid game plan against Saracens, we just slipped on a line-out and allowed them to get back into the game. It’s going there with belief because we know how they play – they’re not going to change and we’ve just got to stop their flow and disrupt them.