Warriors want players to adopt ‘Glasgow gang mentality’ to defending

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Coaches are always being urged to think outside the box so the Warriors’ defensive guru, Kenny Murray, has brought a radical new idea to the table...a return to Glasgow gang warfare.

Not literally, of course, but Murray’s initiative to tighten up the Warriors’ tackling is to revert to a gang-like mentality in defence which he hopes will improve matters after the Warriors concede some soft tries in the defeat by Benetton in Italy last Saturday.

Glasgow Warriors assistant coach Kenny Murray. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS/SRU

Glasgow Warriors assistant coach Kenny Murray. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS/SRU

Cardiff Blues are next up on Sunday afternoon in the Champions Cup and the coach knows his players must do better or risk blowing what would be only their second ever appearance in the cup quarter-finals.

“One thing we’ve spoken about defensively this year is using this kind of gang mentality,” Murray said. “That’s what we’ve been talking about. Teams having to come here and being scared to come to Scotstoun.

“We are trying to link that to the Glasgow gang mentality, about this being our patch and it’s something we’ll talk about this weekend when Cardiff come here.

“Up until the Edinburgh game, we had been defending really well at home but we’ve got to be tougher to beat. We weren’t tough to beat in Treviso and that was the disappointing thing.”

If the idea sounds a little like the poor man’s version of Saracens’ famous “Wolf Pack” it probably is, but after three losses on the trot “a poor-man’s Saracens” has changed from insult to aspiration for this Glasgow squad.

In a bid to lift spirits Murray was quick to recount a highlights reel of Glasgow’s season thus far, which include a 14 man win over the Scarlets and an even more impressive showing at Thomond Park when Munster needed a penalty with the last kick of the match to beat a second string Glasgow side. They seem distant memories, after back-to-back defeats by Edinburgh were followed by the loss to Benetton. Murray suggests Glasgow’s main problem lies in the top six inches.

“First of all, it’s about self-belief,” he insists. “When you lose games, the big thing is that guys start to think about losing, rather than what we’ve done so far this season. We tried to talk in our review about the things we did well in the game against Treviso. We had 40-odd tackle breaks and made 14 line breaks, so we’re creating a lot of good, good stuff. But we just didn’t finish it off and that’s what killed us in the end. Our collisions in the game were poor, on both sides of the ball.

“We have been defending really well in our own 22. But, at the weekend, we allowed them over the tryline too easily once they got into that area of the park. It’s just about trying to reinforce what we’ve done well so far this season and make sure we build a bit of self-belief during training this week.”

That self-belief can only be helped by the news that Stuart Hogg, Oli Kebble, Peter Horne and Callum Gibbins are all back in the mix and likely to be available this weekend but Huw Jones remains a doubt.

And it is not all about big names, as Glasgow players know all too well. Sam Johnson was the best Warrior on the field last Saturday and the whole midfield remains a minefield for Dave Rennie and the rest of the Glasgow selectors given Adam Hastings’ struggles at No 10. The young fly-half started the season well but his decision making has been a little awry recently.

“He’s had a lot of really good games this year. He’s made a lot of good line breaks. His kicking out of hand has also been really good and it’s something we’d like to see him do more,” said Murray, somewhat pointedly.

“He’s a naturally attacking No 10. He likes to attack the line and find space. But, at this level, you need to balance your game. You need to get yourself into good positions to attack and that’s probably where we’ve not been great over the last three weeks against Edinburgh and Treviso.

“You don’t become a poor player overnight. He just needs to take the feedback he’s getting from the coaches on board, learn, and take it on to the pitch.”

And the young stand-off isn’t the only one.