Gregor Townsend: ‘Wigan stint will boost Glasgow’

Glasgow Warriors coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: SNS
Glasgow Warriors coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: SNS
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GLASGOW Warriors returned from training with their rugby league namesakes from Wigan confident that it could boost their performance levels this season.

Fresh from humbling the London Broncos 70-0 in Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final, Wigan opened their doors to the team over the past two days for combined training sessions. Head coach Gregor Townsend believes the move could enhance the skill levels of the Glasgow players. “It has been a great couple of days and I’m very confident that our guys will take a lot from it,” he said.

“We have good connections with Wigan and their fitness coach Mark Bitcon, who used to work with Glasgow and Scotland, and the idea came from a discussion between Mark and our coach, Stuart Yule.

“There was a limit to how many boys we could take down, so we decided to make it a reward for 24 who are well into their pre-season training. That meant leaving the boys who toured with the Lions and Scotland at home, but we will be sharing everything we learned with them over the coming days.”

The Glasgow players spent the two days working on various drills, from wrestling to defence led by Wigan’s defence coach Iestyn Harris, the former dual Wales and GB cap, and different attacking approaches. They also took in an under-19 match on Monday night and concluded yesterday with a combined game of touch between the rival Warriors.

“We got through quite a bit,” added Townsend. “I was pleased that we worked on areas such as catch-pass, running lines and support play, because, while it’s interesting how similar we approach some things, it was instructive for our boys, especially the young players we took down, to see the quality of Wigan’s catch-pass and the detail they go into in attacking lines and support play.

“I enjoyed chatting with Shaun Wane [Warriors head coach] and the other coaches, and the boys enjoyed training alongside top Wigan players and seeing the levels they aspire to, so I think we will all take a bit of confidence from the two days that can only benefit us this season.

“We play in different codes, and we have to work on scrums, lineouts and clearing contact during the week, which they don’t have to do. There was a different emphasis on defence, for example, where we want to get guys to ground quickly and they want to hold guys up, but, as well as similar skills in attack, there is a work ethic, a professionalism, that our boys saw in what is a pretty humble group of guys despite their achievements.”