Scarlets head coach Glenn Delaney spoke to the media ahead of Saturday’s European Challenge Cup quarter-final in Toulon. Here are the highlights from Glenn’s online press conference.
In terms of fitness, how are Jonathan Davies, Rhys Patchell & Liam Williams?
GD: “I think two of those three probaby won’t be in contention. They are getting really close, the key thing is it would be naive of me to put someone out there who wasn’t ready. We are excited about what’s going on on the training field at the minute. We have a group who are looking hungry, fit and healthy and some guys who have not spent much time out there are looking more like their old selves as well. It is exciting times. The injuries are niggly and we have to be really careful with the loading and tolerance. We understand the players have a massive year ahead of them and we have to make sure everyone is in the best possible space; the last thing we would want is anyone going backwards after spending all that time recovering.”
How tough is it going to be to keep the players occupied out in France?
GD: “It is going to be different. We are flying on a charter on Friday, and pretty much once we get in our cars from home we are isolating, we drive to the airport, stay in our bubble, go to our plane, get on our bus to the hotel, and cannot leave the hotel. We have a few things planned, there will be a bit of fun, we are aiming to enjoy ourselves because the more we enjoy ourselves the freer we play. We want 15 guys on that field really free and able to express themselves.”
What is the challenge of playing Toulon?
GD: “They are athletic, big men. We have found the ball in play times in France are significantly lower than we experience here. We have always wanted to play at a high speed, with a high tempo and give the ball air so I am expecting there to be a couple of contrasting styles. We also have some pretty big men in our forward pack too, we are not afraid of the physicality and challenge there, but the game we want to play is a free-flowing one which has 15 players operating at high skills looking to exploit space and is enjoyable to play. Last time I checked it was 28 degrees in the south of France so we are looking forward to that and we should be able to move the ball around.”
What is the significance of this game?
GD: “It is a final for us. If you win three finals in a row you win a trophy. We are that far away from achieving the objective we all set out upon 12 to 13 months ago. It would be lovely to finish it off the right way. Whenever you get the opportunity to play for a trophy you have got to be very respectful and take it deadly serious, which is exactly what our boys have been doing.”
How difficult is selection going to be?
GD: “It is incredibly tough; people put their hands up during the derby games and there are going to be some good men missing out. We have kept the group tight and we have made sure that the entire group has been preparing for the game. It is always the hardest thing you do as a coach, looking someone in the eye and saying you are not playing this week for these reasons. That can be a pretty soul searching moment for coaches and players, it is the hardest thing we have to do.”
There will be a crowd, but not a full house. Will that help?
GD: “A full house there is one of the best places to play rugby in the world. They have a couple of things that start and finish the game, the first is the ‘Pilou Pilou’ (chant) and then there is potential for them to throw the papers in the air, you want to make sure the last one doesn’t happen because that means you have done your job. There are 5000 fans, I believe, going to be in there and they will make a lot of noise. We have seen their game from last weekend against Lyon (in Top14), there is always a huge degree of intimidation — from the crowd, their officials, their bench — it is a very emotive, passionate place, it is part of the theatre of the game. You have got to embrace that and take that on. There will be a typical Toulon crowd, a few less of them, but they will be the same.”