With hard-earned wins over Connacht and Glasgow in the bag, it has been an encouraging start to the season for the Scarlets.
Zebre are the visitors to Parc y Scarlets on Saturday and as preparations continue for the round three clash, defence coach Glenn Delaney spoke to the media.
Here’s what he had to say . . .
So Glenn, two wins from two, almost the perfect start?
GD: “We are really lucky, we have got a group of hard-working lads who have come through a long pre-season and have had a good return in the first two weeks.
“It is far from perfect, we have got to be really honest about that, but we have got some good results and we are learning, we are getting better each time we go out. There is plenty more to come from this group, I am just looking forward to seeing them working hard and putting in another good performance on the weekend.”
You must have been delighted with the defensive display in Glasgow?
GD: “We have got a lot of character, you can’t defend if you haven’t got that. We are challenging the boys on both sides of the ball with some thinking and they are responding really well.
“What we saw at the end was a lot of determination and heart, and I guess in those moments maybe technique goes out of the window because you are trying to get the job done.
“What I would say is over the course of the evening, we did a lot of things really well defensively, there are still things we have got to continually improve on, but to finish a set like that will give them a lot of confidence, I was really proud of them.”
What about the challenge of Zebre on Saturday?
GD: It is massive to keep momentum going, especially going into a week off. Zebre are going to come with a massive threat of a driving maul, they have some very aggressive carriers and they are the sort of side if you are not attentive to the basics and working hard they are going to cause you some problems.
“We have to make sure that systematically we are on top of what they are going to do. Also, the job of our defence is to really give us ball to attack. We want to make sure that defensively we are feeding our attack and giving it a chance to grow because that is the exciting thing for me, we have got some wonderful attacking players. Our job on the defensive side is to give them as much chance as we can.”
It seems your line-speed in defence has been a big weapon so far?
GD: Line-speed is a massive friend in inclement weather, so if it is wet it is great and if it is windy it is great. The objective of it is to put skillsets under maximum pressure, so the philosophy from me and from us is we don’t want them to play, we want to put them under pressure and get the ball back as quickly as we can. The only way I see we can do that is to be aggressive.
“Look, I am really fortunate the boys want to be aggressive, we have all bought into it and it is going to keep getting better. There are going to be times when we get a smack on the nose and we don’t get things right. But we are learning quickly and at the moment, the intent is fantastic.”
What are your thoughts about the squad here?
GD: “This is one of the best squads I have been involved with. There are guys who are getting an opportunity, it is great to give it and get it, but you have to take it, and I think they are taking it. There is pressure on our squad every day of the week. The hardest day we have is selection day and that is because of the work they are putting in.
“As a squad we are in a really good place, the young players in this region have always been outstanding, I have always recognised that even when I was working over the bridge; we knew the development at Scarlets was outstanding. What you get here is good talented rugby players who are passionate about the game, and often all those guys need is a game and we are happy to give it to them. So far they are performing well.”
Finally, how have you settled into the area and your new role?
GD: “I am loving it. I am really enjoying the area, the family are settled and life is good.
“The key thing when I come in on a Monday, it is a really good, challenging group of men who are trying to get better every day. That is what you want and that is what I looked at when I was looking at coming here. Do they want to learn? And they do, even the elder statesmen are treating every day as a school day. As long as they keep coming with that attitude and we are the same, energy builds, and hopefully we can keep performing.”