DAVID BARNES in KOBE
GRANT GILCHRIST says he fully understands why so much anger has been directed towards the Scotland team after Sunday’s hammering by Ireland in their World Cup opener in Yokohama. In a typically frank and honest press briefing, the Edinburgh second-row vowed that the squad will pull out all the stops to put things right when they face Samoa in Kobe this coming Monday.
It will take more than one victory to exorcise the demons of what happened last weekend, but it will at least be a start.
“People are questioning whether we care and whether we are aggressive enough, and that’s hurtful so we need to go out and really show that [we do care and are aggressive enough],” said Gilchrist
“We all took a beating on Sunday night. We’d put a lot of work in behind the scenes for the last four or five months building towards that game and it’s no surprise that in the 48 hours afterwards you are going to be in a dark place because everybody is rightly annoyed and a bit pissed off with how we played.
“But nobody is more annoyed and pissed off than the guys who have been grafting for the last four months.
“I think we look internally first. What we set out to achieve we didn’t do. We made a commitment to each other to do X, Y and Z – and, to me, that’s the biggest thing … what you commit to your team-mates.
“External to that, we’ve got some motivating factors, but there is enough for us to be concentrating on in-house in terms what we can do better.
The squad reviewed the Ireland match on Tuesday night and while it was a pretty “uncomfortable” experience at the time according to Gilchrist, he says that it was a valuable exercise in terms of helping the team move on to the next challenge.
“[We said] let’s get it all out on the table – let’s fire the bullets and take the bullets like men,” he said. “We are professional rugby players – we don’t want to be we do have the odd bad game and that’s a fact of life – it is about taking it on the chin and working out how you can be better collectively and individually.
World Cup is still alive
“We’ll take the learnings forward and we’ll close the book on the emotion, because you have to get your head up and realise this World Cup is alive for us. There is a huge opportunity on Monday for us to right our wrongs.
“If we right our wrongs on Monday, then it rolls on and we can build on that towards what we have set out to achieve in this World Cup.
“We have to put in the hard yards [at training this week] and when we get out there, especially in that first ten minutes, it has to be through the roof.”
For all his fighting talk, Gilchrist also warned that the hurt and raw emotion of Scotland’s current plight must not cloud the team’s judgement against a Samoan outfit who will love nothing more than a loose, indisciplined game.
“It is not all just aggression,” he said. “There’s a lot of technical things that need to be right to become aggressive. It is not just about getting angry and going out and hitting things – we would be rubbish and people would say you’ve lost discipline. Quite often tackles are missed when guys try to be aggressive – because they are not technically good.
“We are under no illusions. We’re not going to go out there and chuck the playbook away, it’s about being really accurate in what you do and having a bit of edge to you, and that’s what we are going to try to bring on Monday.
“There will be certain ways we can get ourselves into the game pretty early,” he concluded. “Simplifying things and getting ourselves into the game is going to be a big part of it. From a front-five point of view, there is always a ruck to hit, there is always a maul to hit, there is always something you can do to get yourself physically into the game, and we need to make sure that our first actions across the 15 are more aggressive and more energetic than we have ever shown before.”