As there were no other illnesses reported by the squad that evening, this can’t be held up as an explanation for the team’s dismal all-round performance, which is slightly frustrating because it is hard to come up with another logical explanation as to why a side so effervescent against Harlequins the week before could suddenly go off the boil in such dramatic fashion.
“Suddenly, I had no energy. It just came on without warning during the game,” said Tovey, who was talking about his own experience, but could easily have been paraphrasing on behalf of the team as a whole.
Tovey has been back in training this week and although he looked slightly peaky at Tuesday’s press conference, he insists that he is feeling grand and ready to go against Ulster tomorrow evening.
“It was difficult for us. We spoke after the game of our disappointment and frustration. The game-plan had been put in place by Duncan Hodge and the coaches but we did not execute it,” said the Welshman.
“We have looked at that this week and want to rectify in all the areas where we let ourselves down. To take the positive out of it is probably a good thing for us. It was a bit of a wake-up call. We’ve had some good results in the last three weeks, but that game on Friday showed we have plenty still to work on.
“You speak to some of the boys about their individual skills and they were not good enough. They will go away and learn from that.
“We were winning the game with five minutes to go and need to learn to close games out. It will certainly be a lot better this week than it was on Friday. We are looking for a reaction from the boys in a home game.”
Edinburgh may have been in a position to win the game late on, but that says more about Zebre’s inability to pull away than anything positive about the way the home team performed. They were hammered at scrum time, their lineout was not much better and their open play was severely lacking in terms of accuracy and conviction.
You can’t help but fear the worst for Edinburgh when Ulster come calling tomorrow night. The Northern Irishmen are currently fifth in the Pro12 table, but are only three points away from top spot. They blasted their way past Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun less than six weeks ago and although they will have lost four leading players in Rory Best, Craig Gilroy, Jared Payne and Andrew Trimble to international duty, they have not been as heavily hit by call-ups for Ireland’s historic Test match against New Zealand in Chicago on Saturday as initially anticipated.
Stand-off Paddy Jackson, who has been quizzed over alleged sexual offences in Belfast last summer, is not available for Ulster this weekend either – although coach Les Kiss insisted yesterday that this was to do with ‘game management’ and added that the playmaker would be available later in the month.
“He [Jackson] is one of their biggest weapons. When he does not play at ten maybe they do not run as smoothly but they also have Ruan Pienaar and Charles Piutau. We need to look at them as a team. They will be firing on Friday,” said Tovey
“The players brought in will be top class. Luke Marshall has not travelled with Ireland. Ulster could put two teams out that could compete at any level.”