Rennie backing squad depth ahead of new campaign
Glasgow Warriors head coach Dave Rennie is confident in his squad’s ability to overcome the challenge of being without several international players for the start of the new season, as he sets his sights on a return to the Guinness PRO14 Final Series.
A thrilling second season at the helm for the former Wellington centre came to a disappointing conclusion with May’s Guinness PRO14 Final defeat to Leinster at Celtic Park, yet Rennie believes that his side will be able to learn and rebound from the setback.
Speaking at the club’s training camp in Aberdeen, he said: “It’s incredibly disappointing to fall short of a goal, so it’s tough.
“Seasons are long over here – you pour everything you have into 11 months and it comes down to one game in the end.
“When you lose and it’s tight, you can always look at the mental side of the game, but we won a lot of close games last year. We’ve shown our ability to perform under pressure – we had to win our last six games to ensure we finished top, and four of those teams were involved in European quarter-finals.
“What we’ve learnt is that you’ve got to take your opportunities. We had a couple of opportunities to sting Leinster and didn’t take them, and they ended up choking us out of the game.”
With pre-season preparations now in full swing, all eyes will be trained on the club’s opening pre-season fixture away to Ulster in just under a month’s time. The balance between work and rest has been something that Rennie and his backroom team have been careful to maintain, however.
“We made sure we had a good break,” said Rennie.
“We finished at the end of May and didn’t come back in until the middle of July. A lot of planning goes on in that time, but we wanted the boys to clear their heads and come back in fully fit.
“They’ve been great since they’ve come back, they’re working hard. We’ve got a few weeks until we play, but we’re in a pretty good spot at the moment.”
The road to the 2020 Guinness PRO14 Final begins with a trip to Bloemfontein on Friday 27 September, as the Warriors take on the Toyota Cheetahs in the opening match of the competition. Whilst 22 of his squad are currently battling for a place in their respective national squads ahead of next month’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, Rennie has no doubt that the players pulling on the Glasgow jersey will be ready to front up.
“We play a lot during the international windows, so we play a lot without our international players,” he said.
“We’ve been able to blood a lot of good young boys over the last couple of years, and the expectation is that whoever wears the jersey delivers.
“We’ve obviously got some academy boys and 7s boys in training with us and we’ve stripped everything right back – we’re doing a lot of micro-skills work.
“We knew that this was coming and that we’d be missing a lot of guys, so we’re not going to make any excuses. There are a lot of young men here that know they’ve got a sniff of a starting place if they perform well in training, so it’s exciting for them. This month we’re also expecting Jale [Vakaloloma] to arrive and Ruaridh Jackson to return from his extended break, so we’re in a good place.
of who gets selected to go to the World Cup, we still have the same
expectations on ourselves.”