NEW Glasgow head coach Franco Smith has provided a defiantly upbeat assessment of the playing squad he has inherited, insisting they can leave the disappointments of last season behind them and quickly get back to what he believes is their true form. Speaking at his first press conference since his appointment was announced, the South African declined to name moderate or easily-reached targets when asked what would represent success for the Warriors in the coming season. Instead, he deliberately set his sights high.
“We want to win everything,” he said when asked what in his view would constitute success for Glasgow. “Shall we not start there? I don’t come here to participate.
“We don’t just want to be successful only. We want to be significant as well. We want to be the heroes that Glasgow needs. We want to win as much as we can, but we have to also build up processes that will allow us to win consistently.”
Smith has inherited a coaching team as well as a playing squad, but he went out of his way to express his confidence in both. “These guys are all keen to contribute after what’s happened last season,” he said of the coaches – Nigel Carolan, Pete Murchie and Al Dickinson, plus Pete Horne who only joined after the end of the 2021-22 campaign. “They’re excited. They’re a young bunch of guys apart from Nigel, who is a little bit older and more experienced.
“The rest are wanting to improve and are all learning. They are the support staff and that’s what I need – a support group at this stage. I’m happy to get to know them and throughout the year I’m sure we’ll develop a good relationship.”
“I’m very comfortable with the team and the group [of new players] that’s been signed,” he continued. “It’s time to give them the confidence to allow them to express themselves with our support as a coaching group. For now we’re just going to climb behind these guys and allow them to rectify where they feel they’ve let the group down or let the [Warrior] Nation down.
“They’re very motivated after the disappointment of the last game of last season [the 76-14 loss to Leinster]. They’re a fine bunch of guys, hard-working, and I can see their effort. I think the most important thing is to see what we can do, not look at what we’ve already done.
“It’s about the next job, that’s the most important thing. If we’re going to keep on carrying the weight of that disappointment we’re not going to get better. We’re getting rid of the past and we are keeping our eyes on what’s coming and what we can do to influence the outcome.”
Indiscipline was a painful problem for Danny Wilson during the latter part of his two years as head coach, but Smith suggested that if other parts of life as a team were handled correctly, a solution to that problem would arise more or less automatically.
“As part of the game model, discipline is an important thing. But discipline is something you live every day. It’s not something you coach or teach. Hopefully the way we go about business will keep us behind the offside line and let us into the mauls at the right angles and at the right height at the right side.
“Discipline for most teams is a problem. Sometimes it goes out the door as they try too hard. Errors are made, not because there’s any malice but because you’re trying too hard to rectify problems. We have to keep our cool about that and try to be as calm about our business as possible.”
Smith also hinted that he could appoint a new player as captain to succeed Scotland internationals Ryan Wilson and Fraser Brown, who have shared the honour in recent seasons. There are emerging leaders within the Glasgow squad, and one or more could well have the distinction conferred upon him in the coming weeks.
“We as a coaching group have discussed it – but for now we’re going to keep our cards close to our chests. That could be a little bit of a surprise going forward.”