Franco Smith: First impressions of new Glasgow Warriors coach as he exudes calmness and clarity
In an age when new coaches often get their excuses in early doors and claim they will need years and a big transfer budget to turn their team round, it was refreshing to hear no such caveats, quibbles or qualifications from Franco Smith on Thursday.
Just days in the door at Scotstoun, and with weeks still to serve in his current post with the Italian Federation before he can devote all his energies to Glasgow, the Warriors head coach could have called upon a couple of ready-made excuses had he wanted to. He has inherited a coaching team, for example, the latest member of which, Pete Horne, arrived only recently – after the sacking of Danny Wilson, Smith’s predecessor. He has also inherited a squad which includes several new faces recruited before his own arrival, and in the short term at least he is unlikely to have the resources to go into the market.
Instead of referring to such limitations, however, Smith insisted he had faith in the players and coaches with whom he must work. Faith that they can turn things round quickly after the dismal run-in to last season. Faith that, far from being the ragged, demoralised, indisciplined bunch that they resembled on occasion, the players are a well-motivated group for whom good discipline will become second nature if they are provided with the right structures in which to work.
“These guys [the coaches] are all keen to contribute after what’s happened last season,” Smith insisted. “They’re excited.
“I’m very comfortable with the team and the group [of new players] that’s been signed. 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 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.
“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.”
Softly spoken, Smith exudes a quiet confidence, as befits a man who won international honours with the Springboks. His record as a player commands respect, his experience of working in Italian rugby means he knows the URC well, and the fact that his background is different from what they have known before could be just the sort of fresh input that the Warriors need as they try to rediscover their sense of direction.
Of course, there are no guarantees of success in a league that is becoming more competitive by the season, but the candour, clarity and calmness with which Smith has begun his new job has to go down as a good sign.