Glasgow Warriors' coaches not always on same page but 'robust conversations' welcomed

Glasgow Warriors attack coach Nigel Carolan has admitted that he doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with Franco Smith – who took charge of the club at the start of August following the sacking of Danny Wilson – but insisted that constructive disagreements are a positive thing as the squad looks to bounce back from a deeply disappointing end to last season.

Head coach Franco Smith has brought in new philosophies at Glasgow Warriors.
Head coach Franco Smith has brought in new philosophies at Glasgow Warriors.

Smith is a typically straight-to-the-point South African and has clearly wasted no time in stamping his authority on the squad since making the switch from the director of rugby role for the Italian Rugby Federation, and Irishman Carolan says he is happy to adapt his coaching philosophy to fit into a new era at Scotstoun.

“I didn’t know Danny before I came over to Glasgow this time last year, so you have to build relationships – trust and belief in each other – and it’s the same with Franco,” he explained.

“He’s got a very strong vision of what he wants for the club and how he wants the game to be played. I’m an assistant coach. I’m not there to dictate. I’m very much about trying to roll in behind him the best I can.

Glasgow Warriors started off their pre-season campaign with a 22-17 win over Ayrshire Bulls.

“Since he’s arrived, it’s a lot of clarity, a lot of conversations and looking at footage to see what we think. It’s a good challenge.

“I was certainly never in a comfort zone last year although I probably had more autonomy in terms of the attack. Franco has an attacking mindset himself so it’s about marrying up our philosophies which aren’t a million miles apart, so that we’re on the same page and I can support his ideas.

“I’m never too shy about getting my hands dirty,” Carolan continued. “It’s just about trying to help wherever I can.

“Because it’s change again, that can be unsettling for some, but it’s about getting the team to perform and we all need to be on the same page for that. I’ll do whatever I need to do.

Assistant head coach Nigel Carolan during a Glasgow Warriors open training session at Scotstoun.

“We’ll have a few barnies along the way. There are a few things we won’t agree on all the time. That’s a good thing. We had a few robust conversations this morning about certain things. It’s really great and that’s what I’m embracing, too.

“It’s a fresh challenge for me. I’m out of my comfort zone again which is why I’m on this coaching journey. You have to get out of whatever ‘normal’ is as that’s where growth comes from.”

Frank honesty is also important when it comes to how coaches and players interact if the painful memory of the team’s humiliating 76-14 loss to Leinster at the end of last season is to be banished as ancient history, Carolan added.

“We’re all in this together,” he said; “It’s definitely not coaches pointing the finger at players or vice versa. We had a pretty in-depth review of last season, and it starts with self-reflection on what we did and what we can do differently.

“Players want honesty. They want to be called out and challenged. You don’t want to create an environment where it becomes toxic and negative, but you want to make sure they’re on the road to improvement.”

Carolan also revealed that academy prospects Ben Afshar and Andy Stirrat picked up injuries in Glasgow’s pre-season hit-out against Ayrshire Bulls, but the core squad members involved in that match came through unscathed.