Mike Coman demands high standards from Edinburgh

Mike COMAN will demand high standards from all of those around him when he leads Edinburgh Rugby in the coming season.
Edinburgh Rugby's newly announced captain Mike Coman. Picture: SNSEdinburgh Rugby's newly announced captain Mike Coman. Picture: SNS
Edinburgh Rugby's newly announced captain Mike Coman. Picture: SNS

The New Zealander was named club captain for 2014/15 by head coach Alan Solomons yesterday and quickly set out in detail what he expects from the squad.

Some may be surprised by his selection as the regular skipper, but Solomons has always been a big fan of his and soon after Coman arrived at the club during last term, he was given the captaincy for a handful of matches during the Six Nations.

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Grant Gilchrist, who captained Scotland in the summer, will continue his education as Coman’s vice-captain.

Back-row Coman, 26, said: “It is a huge honour to be named captain of a club of this size. When I came in last season I was lucky enough to lead the boys in a few games, but there have been a number of new arrivals since then and we are all really seeing this as a fresh start.

“Throughout pre-season I have had regular dialogue with Alan about what the club is looking to achieve and when he asked me to be captain I was really pleased.

“I believe we have a really strong squad now and I will be looking to lead from the front. I am the sort of captain that tries to set high standards and demands them from those around me and I feel we have a group who are really working hard for each other on the eve of the season.

“The dynamic in the squad is great, while the young players who have come in as first-year pros or EDPs [elite development players] have been showing just the same levels of performance as the older players and long may that continue.

“A squad that has respect for one another tends to do well and we hope to continue building on the team spirit in the weeks to come.”

While he was coming up through the age-grade representative sides in Canterbury in his teens, Coman got his first taste of captaincy while he earned caps for New Zealand at under-19 level.

He also captained the Hawke’s Bay Magpies to the ITM Championship in 2011, leading them in total for four years, and also experienced captaincy with Super Rugby side the Hurricanes during pre-season in 2012.

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Coman missed the early part of the recent pre-season because of injury, but is fully fit and ready to help Edinburgh achieve their aims of a top-six finish in the Guinness Pro12 and a good run in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

Looking out on to the new surface at BT Murrayfield from the stands, he said: “When you look out it just makes you think ‘we are really privileged to get the chance to play out there every second week and we want to play a brand of rugby that will make the people of the city proud. Myself and Grant will be backed up by a number of other players who are part of our core leadership group, while I am always happy to listen to all players if they have a point to make that they feel can help improve the team.

“It is easy to stand here now and say that things are shaping up well before we have played any competitive matches, but as players we now have to get ready for the big game at the weekend and really focus on what we are trying to achieve.”

Having been in Scotland for less than a year, Coman is delighted to have 24-year-old second-row Gilchrist, who is somewhat of a fans’ favourite, as his vice-captain.

Gilchrist will miss the opening weeks of the season through injury, but he said: “I enjoyed the challenge of captaining Scotland in the summer and I think it has made me a bit more vocal around the place and on the pitch during games.

“We all know that Mike will set us all high standards and I am here to help him with this aim.

“Last season was disappointing for all of us, but as the players have said on a number of occasions we are all really benefiting from a tough pre-season and working with a close knit coaching unit.”

Solomons said of his choices: “Mike has a lot of experience in a leadership role, captaining his former club Hawke’s Bay, and he stood in to lead Edinburgh last season when Greig [Laidlaw] was on international duty.

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“Grant has come on in leaps and bounds in terms of leadership and this will be another step in developing those qualities. I look forward to working very closely with them both.”

Edinburgh Rugby get their Guinness Pro12 campaign under way in Ireland on Friday night at Munster’s Thomond Park (BBC Alba, 7:35pm).