Humphreys challenges his boys to show the power of the Warriors’ pack

Coach warns that perception can easily become reality if not addressed head on

Jonathan Humphreys
Jonathan Humphries and his Glasgow Warriors pack are under the lense after struggling at key moments last season ***Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson***

JONATHAN HUMPHREYS does his best to disguise it, but you can sense the irritation in the former Wales hooker’s body language when the issue of Glasgow Warriors’ lack of ballast upfront is raised as the first question at yesterday’s press briefing.

As the team’s forward coach since being switched over from the same role with the national team last summer, he perhaps feels that he has been in the firing line on this issue which has troubled the club’s supporters ever since last season’s early promise evaporated when the heavy artillery came out during the second half of the campaign – although, in truth, it is the lack of heavyweight personnel, rather than the coaching, which has been the focus of frustration.

Nobody doubts the rugby ability of the forwards currently in the squad, but there is feeling that the presence of an out-and-out bulldozer could be useful when the going gets tough.

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Humphreys knows that there is no point flatly denying that this might be an issue, instead he wants to see his players do the talking for him on the pitch.

“Going away to Connacht is always a big physical test,” he says, referring to last Saturday’s gritty 26-27 victory in Galway. “And this is one again,” he added, throwing things ahead to the arrival of Munster at Scotstoun on Friday night.

“We’ve then got Cheetahs the following week. All those teams have really strong set pieces. It’s a real good challenge for us.

“Last week was pleasing but we know we have to be a lot better this week. The boys like playing against them [Munster]. They are always the benchmark of physicality. Unless you stand up front physically you’re not going to beat Munster. It’s always a big test.”

Perception and reality

While Humphreys doesn’t necessarily agree with the depiction of Warriors as having a powderpuff pack, he realises the importance of addressing the issue before ‘the perception becomes the reality’.

“Teams coming here will feel that their access into the game is through the forwards. We’ve got to make sure we change that perception. Whether it’s style of play or not, we need to make sure that we are pretty ferocious, and we are in a good spot every time we play,” he reasons.

“We know that the perception can become the reality and we have to make sure that we are good in that area and really physical there.”

It hasn’t helped that South African prop Oli Kebble and New Zealand lock Brian Alainu’uese – two of the team’s biggest specimens – hardly played last season due to injury. The latter is still a few weeks away from being fit to play again, but Kebble was in the number one jersey against Connacht and is looking to making up for lost time.

“I went to see him play for the Stormers [before he moved to Glasgow last summer – he’s a massive man, very physical and with a really good skill set,” says Humphreys. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t see a lot of him last year. Hopefully he’s over all that and we’ll see the benefits of having him.”

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That was the month that was: August 2018


About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.