‘I inherited that problem, I didn’t create it’ – Franco Smith on Glasgow Warriors’ bad start and their motivation to bounce back

There was some unsparing criticism of Glasgow Warriors on social media following their defeat by Benetton on Friday but new coach Franco Smith has urged the club’s supporters to exercise a little patience as they attempt to get their campaign up and running following a disrupted pre-season.

The Smith era began in underwhelming fashion in Treviso with a bonus-point victory for the home side in the opening match of the United Rugby Championship. It was Glasgow’s sixth loss in a row, although five of them came last season under the charge of Smith’s predecessor, Danny Wilson. The fans are understandably restless.

The Warriors play Cardiff this Friday in what will be Smith’s first match in charge at Scotstoun and the club’s first home game since April 1.

Events beyond their control meant both Glasgow’s scheduled friendlies against Worcester and Ulster were cancelled and they went into the Benetton game undercooked. Smith reckons they will need three games under their belts to get up to speed but has promised that his squad will be highly motivated for Cardiff’s visit.

“The players don’t really need motivation,” said Smith. “That is the big thing. Maybe they don’t understand what needs to be done but they don’t need motivation. They are keen to play and it is special every week. So we will see a team that is really motivated and excited to play in front of their crowd.”

Despite the result in Italy, Smith believes he has learned more from seeing the players in a match than he has on the training field.

“It’s good to get the cobwebs away. As a coaching group we’ve managed to get through more in one day than we did in all of pre-season as there’s now actual video footage to tell them what’s right and wrong.”

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Franco Smith says his Glasgow Warriors will be highly motivated for the visit of Cardiff. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

Smith reiterated that he had no magic wand to conjure up an immediate return to form as the hangover from last season’s run-in continues to linger.

“I inherited that problem, I didn’t create it,” said the former Italy coach who dismissed suggestions that the players had been pushed too hard in pre-season. “All I can say again is that I’m not a magician. But the fans should come and see how hard these guys train and work.

“And they’ve not been overworked. If they had been playing a Test match last weekend I would maybe have agreed but it’s the beginning of the season. And if they’re not fit in two weeks’ time that’s also a problem.

“The Warrior Nation should come and see how these guys train and what actions they go through. We can only try to be better every week. It’s difficult from their [the fans’] perspective but you can only imagine how tough it is sitting on this side. We want to entertain and bring contentment to everybody. But in the meantime we’re struggling to get that continuity without proper preparation.”

Glasgow Warriors lost 33-11 to Benetton in Treviso in the URC opener. Photo by Luca Sighinolfi/INPHO/Shutterstock

A hastily arranged bounce game with the semi-pro Ayrshire Bulls was the only match practice Glasgow managed before the URC opener after Worcester pulled out due to financial problems and the Ulster game was called off following the Queen’s death.

“If we were sat here today having played the Worcester game it would have been a much different picture for us going forward,” added Smith.

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