MATT FAGERSON first broke into the Glasgow Warriors during the season before Dave Rennie arrived at the club as head coach in the summer of 2017, but it was under the New Zealander that he really established himself as a frontline player during the following campaign, leading to his international debut against the USA in June 2018.
So, while not every Warrior who worked under Rennie feels that their career was enhanced by his tutelage, Fagerson is full of praise for his old boss, who left the club to take charge of Australia in the summer of 2020 – and says he is looking forward to catching up with him after Sunday’s clash between Scotland and the Wallabies at Murrayfield.
“I’m very fond of Dave,” said the 23-year-old. “I thought he was a great coach, and he was really good to me. One of the things I took from Dave was his player management of me personally. If I was playing poorly, he would tell me, and if I was playing well, he would tell me that as well.
“We’d have some good honest discussions about things to work on, things I was doing well, why he was picking me and sometimes why I missed out. I really respected that.
“My footwork was probably a big thing for him. He quite liked the fact I could get soft shoulders here and there.
“I just think it will be really good to play against a team that he is coaching and then catch up with him after the game. It has been a long time. I have a lot of respect for Dave so it will be good to have a chinwag with him and just talk about stuff.”
Season Appeal 2022
We hope you are enjoying our unrivalled coverage of Scottish Rugby. While mainstream media continues to reduce its interest in the rugby family in Scotland, The Offside Line does its very best to make sure all levels of the domestic game are reported.
Our commitment to the game and sharing its stories means that we do not have a paywall, so we would ask you (only if you can!) to support The Offside Line, either with a one off donation, or with a monthly contribution.
We have been keeping Scottish rugby in the news since 2016 and will have 3 million page views this year, making The Offside Line first for Scottish rugby.
With is as many as 13 players who worked under Rennie at Glasgow in the frame for Scotland’s 23-man match-day squad this weekend, and with Wallabies defence coach Matt Taylor and scrum coach Petrus du Plessis also having had spells on the Murrayfield/Scotstoun payroll, there is going to be a fair bit of shared history between the two sides on Sunday.
“I think there are aspects of knowing how he wants his team to play, things that he holds dear to his heart in terms of tactics and the way you go about your business,” replied Fagerson, when asked if that familiarity might be a factor in how the game pans out. “I think he has put his own spin on Australian rugby and where he wants them to go.
“They love to play from deep, they are pretty brutal in contact, and they have some great jackalers as well. I thought he was a brilliant coach, a play-before-you-kick sort of coach, and he brought that into the whole squad. He’s doing an amazing job with Australia.
“Matt [Taylor] was there in my first year at Glasgow and obviously he was a Scotland coach for a couple of years. He knew exactly what he wanted from his defence. He was very the big on boys going low in the tackle. Getting off the line and putting the first receiver under pressure was huge for him. He was a good coach but it has been good to have a fresh set of eyes from Steve Tandy [who took over as Scotland defence coach following the 2019 World Cup].
“Petrus took the Glasgow scrum to new levels when he came to the club. He did a lot to work with Scotland before Pieter came in. I’ve got a lot of time for Petrus. He was a great guy at Glasgow, a really good man.
“Australia have just won five games in a row, and they’ve beaten the world champions twice,” he continued. “Clearly their credentials are way ahead at the minute. They have been playing really well and are developing as a team so it will be a massive challenge for us, but one I’m really looking forward to.
“I don’t think there is anything massive we need to sort out from the Tonga game. The set-piece was good at times and our defence and attack were really good in open play. One area we could look at is that we got beaten a couple of times on the edge, so we just have to tidy a few things up. Not massive errors, just positional clarity kind of things. There wasn’t too much to have a look at.
“We just need to trust in our systems,” concluded Fagerson. “For the past couple of Six Nations [campaigns] we had a really good defence. If we trust in what we do well we will hopefully come out with a good result. We have a lot of attacking threats, players all over the park with some great individual talent. If we can pull all that together it will be a pretty good occasion and, hopefully, we’ll get a win.”
- The Offside Line’s coverage of Glasgow Warriors is powered by McCrea Financial Services.
- McCrea Financial Services sponsor Glasgow Warriors and provide a wide range of financial advisory services including mortgage, pension and retirement planning advice. See www.mccreafs.co.uk to contact them for more information.