Glasgow may have finally clinched a home semi-final in the forthcoming Pro14 play-offs, but Callum Gibbins has warned that they will not be good enough to win the competition on present form.
The openside flanker captained the Warriors in last Friday’s 35-22 win over Connacht which secured a Scotstoun semi for the Conference A leaders, and was pleased with the way the team played for much of the game.
He believes, however, that they still need to ensure they are at the top of their game for longer periods in subsequent matches, and is convinced that several aspects of their play must improve if they are to emulate the team of 2015 and win the title.
“It’s nice knowing we’ve got a home semi,” the New Zealander said. “It’s always been a goal of ours, so it’s good to tick those off. Now that we’ve got it we just want to park it and focus on the next two weeks.
“We’ve got two big games, Ulster and Edinburgh, so we just want to focus on that. We’re still not good enough to win the comp, so we need to get better in certain areas. That’s what we’ll be looking to do in the next few weeks.
“We were really happy with how we played [against Connacht],” he continued. “It’s a hard task to play a full 80 minutes, so we’ve just got to somehow work out how to be better for longer and we’ll be in a good place the next few weeks.
“I think that second half, looking back at the game there, us leaders – and myself personally – could have handled situations a bit better. We were starved of the ball quite a bit in that second half, and when we got the ball maybe we could have played a little bit differently. I think because we didn’t have much of it we tried to over-play and then we gave the ball back to them, got stuck down there again and it all sort of spiralled into a couple of yellow cards.”
Gibbins has made a significant impact in his first season with the Warriors, even though he missed a large chunk of the campaign through injury. His mental resilience has been as impressive as his physical competitiveness, and he agreed with Glasgow assistant coach Jason O’Halloran that the psychological side of the sport is an area where the Warriors need to get better.
“The mental side of the game’s huge. As you get older, you learn to deal with situations better and it’s not just a physical game any more. You’ve got to deal with pressure, and with the finals coming up we’ve got to take that on our shoulders. The mental side of the game’s huge coming to the end of the season, so we need to grow our game in that sort of area as well.”
Saturday’s game in Belfast looks like the ideal opportunity for Glasgow to rise to the occasion and put in the sort of improved performance which Gibbins deems necessary. If they fall below their best they could be punished by an Ulster side still in with a chance of the play-offs, but if they do themselves justice they can produce the kind of result which will be a big boost to their momentum.
“We want to win every game we play,” Gibbins added. “We travel to Ireland and it will be a tough ask to win over there, but I think we’ve got the team to put a good performance out there, and when we get things right more times than we don’t then usually we come out on top.”