DCSIMG

Bradley urges Edinburgh to deliver in final games

Michael Bradley believes he could have turned things around at Edinburgh if given more time. Picture: SNS

Michael Bradley believes he could have turned things around at Edinburgh if given more time. Picture: SNS

  • by DAVID FERGUSON
 

MICHAEL Bradley called on his players to show what they are made of in the final eight games of the season, starting against Cardiff at Murrayfield tonight, but refused to blame them for his demise.

The head coach was told at the start of the week that his two-year contract, which ends in May, will not be renewed, after his failure to build on last season’s Heineken Cup semi-final achievement and push the team into contention for the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs.

It did not came as a major shock and Bradley agreed that results this season – a Heineken Cup whitewash and just four league wins – were poor, but the Irishman was disappointed to be called in by SRU chief executive Mark Dodson because he believes he could have plotted significant improvement if given more time.

He said: “Personally, I’m disappointed because I’ve enjoyed my time in Edinburgh and feel we have a good squad. The results haven’t been good enough and I accept that, but the quality is there and it will come to the fore. The new coaching team will be very happy with the squad they have going forward.

“As the head man in terms of the rugby side of things you have to take responsibility for the results and they haven’t been good enough.”

Asked if he felt let down by his players, or fellow coaches, he said: “You can use the words ‘let down’ or ‘disappointed’, but we as a squad and group of people representing Edinburgh Rugby haven’t done ourselves proud or justice in terms of the investment and potential.

“You look at the players we’ve brought in and what should be produced on the pitch and it hasn’t been a really consistent, good performance by the side.

“It’s been massively up and down, inconsistent, lack of concentration, but without going into all the detail there is still a good squad there and a strong team, maybe even better for the experience because this has harnessed them and they’re fighting for their reputations now.

“I don’t think they need to react to that [his sacking], but they do need to react to the requirement to win at home, play good rugby and be combative on the pitch. When they do that they’ll win matches. Coaches change on a regular basis, but when they wear the jersey they have to perform at a certain level.

“I think the players are looking forward to the match, hopefully a home win, and then seven more matches, three at home, and I believe that these guys will finish the season quite strong.

“But the players have to do it now. You bring the cattle to the water, but they have to drink themselves.

“They have to produce the goods on the day. They have been given the opportunity but they have to take it and hopefully they’ll be fighting for it this weekend.”

Few Edinburgh supporters will be crying into their beers after witnessing a woeful season, and Dodson may have felt he had little option as attendances start to fall again. But whatever anyone thinks of Bradley’s coaching, he is paying the price for the failings of others too.

Graham Lowe, the now-departed SRU director of performance rugby, made many of the signings that have so far failed to gel, including one-cap All Black Ben Atiga, and crucially when Bradley asked the SRU for support in signing an international fly-half, Argentine Ignacio Mieres, to provide experience and reliable goal-kicking, and bring on his crop of young stand-offs, he was turned down.

He was available for less than most other signings, but Lowe, backed by Dodson and then national coach Andy Robinson, disagreed with Bradley’s view that an experienced fly-half was what Edinburgh required. The SRU later brought in Piers Francis, a young, raw fly-half, to add competition to a stable already housing promising young Scots Harry Leonard and Gregor Hunter.

Intriguingly, Bradley has dropped Francis after a poor showing against Munster, restoring Hunter to the No 10 jersey tonight, and said yesterday he still would like to “complete the job” by signing an experienced stand-off to support the youngsters. Mieres has just signed for Exeter so he is no longer a target.

The Irishman did not have great support either from Billy McGinty, a defence coach who whose defence is the league’s worst statistically, and Neil Back, brought in despite a similarly brief coaching CV, and whose pack has been maddeningly inconsistent.

Whether six months was sufficient time for the coaches to gel, and bring together a squad with 15 newcomers, also remains a moot point.

But Bradley has no interest in apportioning blame elsewhere, and could not hide from the results even if he wanted to.

It will be difficult for the coach to retain the motivation of a side when effectively already sacked, but he is a strong character.

And with a team that has under-performed to Edinburgh’s extent this season a strong finish is Bradley’s last hope of leaving a positive legacy, and perhaps of persuading other clubs that he is worth a shot.

Edinburgh

15 G Tonks

14 D Fife

13 N de Luca

12 B Atiga

11 L Jones

10 G Hunter

9 R Rees

1 J Yapp

2 S Lawrie (capt)

3 G Cross

4 G Gilchrist

5 I vd Westhuizen

6 D Denton

7 S McInally

8 N Talei

Subs

16 A Titterrell

17 A Jacobsen

18 W Nel

19 S Cox

20 H Watson

21 C Leck

22 H Leonard

23 Tom Brown

Cardiff

15 J Tovey

14 O Williams

13 R Smith

12 G Evans (capt)

11 H Robinson

10 R Patchell

9 L Jones

1 T Filise

2 M Breeze

3 S Andrews

4 M Paterson

5 J Down

6 J Navidi

7 T Young

8 R Copeland

Subs

16 K Dacey

17 S Hobbs

18 B Bourrust

19 L Reed

20 A Pretorius

21 A Walker

22 G Davies

23 C Czekaj

 

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