AL KELLOCK is injured at the moment but will be back in the next few weeks. Josh Strauss captained at the weekend (against Harlequins) and we will have a different captain for London Scottish. Al is one of the best captains I have ever worked with but we have excellent depth in the second row and Tim Swinson will be back for us on Saturday.
We have finished fourth, third and second and our goal is to become the first Scottish team to win a title. We have yet to achieve that. It’s something that will drive us this year. We know the work that is required to get into the final four and the final. It will be tough but I know that this group of players can raise their standards again this year.
Being in two semis and a final gives the club confidence and the players know what it takes to win. Last season the level of competition was higher and it will go up again this year. Look at what Connacht and Edinburgh have done recruitment wise, Cardiff have a Super Rugby coach coming and some good signings, Dragons have recruited well. We are going to be challenged every week and that is what we want.
We have had a great pre-season culminating in two weeks’ training in France. Rory Hughes and Fergus Scott played at the weekend. I am happy with our conditioning and excited by players such as Euan Murray and with Scott, who got 20 minutes against Harlequins.
Every team needs to develop and we are developing leaders with the players taking over previews and reviews so we can develop more potential captains as we go on.
We recruited heavily in re-signing our own players. A number of our players over the last couple of seasons have gone on to play for Scotland and the British Lions so you can fill in the blanks (ie they cost more money). The support we get from the SRU has been fantastic and we have put together a squad with something like 30 or 31 internationals so that is fantastic.
We won the most games last season so we have to build on that. We lost three of our four games during the international window so obviously we have to look at how we integrate our international players. We have much greater depth so we should be competitive when they are away.
After that it’s semis and finals. If we get the opportunity to play in another final I think the lessons we learned that day (last season), about not rushing things and keeping control, will put us in good stead but we know it will be tough.