New Scotland forwards coach Danny Wilson may have one match under his belt as part of a Test coaching team but it’s only this week that he feels he has moved on to the new chapter in his career.
The former Cardiff chief was in the Welsh capital and bedecked in blue at the weekend as Scotland crashed to a 21-10 defeat and admitted yesterday that it all had a bit of an inescapable feel to it.
“The first fixture it was almost inevitable it was going to be Wales in Cardiff and it was, but I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said the former Blues coach.
“It was definitely a game that would have been great to pick up a win, but it was probably a team that knew a lot about me and the other way around. I knew a lot about those individuals [in the Wales pack].
“It was great to get back there and see some of those people, but the big picture is getting wins for Scotland. I’m obviously fully committed to that and Fiji is now the opportunity to try to bounce back from the weekend.”
That Test against the islanders kicks off the run of three home games which also includes the visits of South Africa and Argentina. Wilson said that the coaching team have pored over yet another frustrating 80 minutes at the Principality Stadium and have identified the areas needing improvement for the next three weeks.
“We’ve obviously had a good look over the last couple of days as a coaching group and without going into masses of details and trying to put it in a nutshell, it’s definitely a missed opportunity and missed opportunities that perhaps prevented us from getting over the line,” he said.
“It’s a tight game international rugby and to have two disallowed tries and a ball held up over the line, you feel you’ve created the opportunities. You’re hoping to nail one of those.
“We’ll obviously look at where we’ve conceded as well and where we can put things right, but it was certainly a missed opportunity, but at the same time we’ll look back and say it’s two sides’ first hit-outs and it gives you a chance to say right where do we need to go for the next game and the one after that, which is what we’re doing this week.”
It is the backline more than the pack that is bolstered this week with the return of big names like Racing 92 stand-off Finn Russell, Clermont scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, Saracens wing Sean Maitland and, of course, the surprise early comeback for Glasgow full-back Stuart Hogg.
He may not be dealing with those players closely this week but welcomed the return of playmaker Russell, who has enjoyed a fine start to his new life in France, most recently starring in Sunday’s win at Vern Cotter’s Montpellier.
“I’ve only seen him very briefly on the walk-up to here, so I haven’t had the report back from where he’s at, but I’m presuming fitness wise he’s in a good place, so it will just be about recovery and whether he’s ready to play a game,” reported the assistant coach.
“In club land there are six day turnarounds quite often and those boys play, so as long as the protocol for recovery is covered.”
Wilson is aware that this weekend’s match against Fiji will, quite literally, be a different ball game from the one they faced against Warren Gatland’s streetwise Welsh, who squeezed the Scots up front and put up a defensive masterclass.
“The threat this weekend, as we know, is a side that will want to play fast, loose and have some extremely dangerous individuals,” said Wilson. “We could list them all, as we know and that’s going to take some containing, there’s no doubt about that.
“Defensively we’ll have to be on top of our game and tactically we’ve got to get that right for this type of opposition. It’s a slightly different game tactically, while trying to make the improvements we need to make from last weekend. So you have to balance a couple of things there but it’s a game we desperately want to win.
“It’s a home game, that goes without saying, but we’re trying to make the relevant steps along the way to prepare for the bigger picture.”
Wilson said he was relishing the transition to international rugby after his summer recruitment.
“It’s definitely a big step-up. The experience is fantastic,” he said. “It’s a great build up in ternms of the day of the game, and the magnifying glass is on even more so. It’s the same game, but at a higher speed and higher physicality and higher intensity. It was a great experience for me to get my first one under my belt.”