George Skivington spoke to the media ahead of the Cherry and Whites’ Gallagher Premiership fixture against Exeter Chiefs on Friday. Here’s what Gloucester Rugby’s Head Coach had to say.
On players returning from injury
“A couple of them have been out training today. It’s obviously a shorter week for us so we haven’t got too much of a training week this week but we’ve had them out today and we’re just testing their fitness and seeing where they’re at.”
“We did use last week to get a few bodies rested who have put in massive shifts for us over the season and the opportunity was there for some guys who haven’t had much rugby to play and obviously get the young guys on the field. Last week was a part of our planned process but from here on in it’s a week by week selection and inviting the champions to Kingsholm is a massive test for us.
“It’s a Premiership game and we’re going out there to try and win.”
On facing Exeter
“There’s not many weaknesses in their play! They are the double champions and I think with Exeter they play a very accurate game. I think you know their strengths. Obviously when they get in the 22 they are very dangerous with their set piece and their pick and go but I also think their transitional play. They’ve got a very dangerous back three who can strike from anywhere and they’re just very well organised. It’ll be more about how we try to stop them as opposed to working out what it is that they are going to do.”
On the team’s progress since the last Exeter fixture
“I think we’re a long way down the line in terms of the way we play. I think the boys are a real tight group and the reality is that the international boys haven’t been around much at all. That was one of the last games we potentially saw them a few months ago. A lot of guys have had opportunities since then and have shown what they can do. This is the first week that we’re all back together but I think as a group we’ve come a long way since that point.”
On recent performances
“You obviously do learn in defeat. That’s without a doubt but you don’t enjoy it. You don’t look forward to losing so that you learn. We are a team that’s growing and if we lose there are lessons and we learn. Ultimately, we want to win and we want to make sure we get stronger and tighter and that you don’t make the same mistakes again.
“There’s loads of energy here. We’re buzzing and as a coaching group we are very excited because we can see where we can get to.”
On recent discipline issues
“We do speak to officials and obviously Matt’s (Banahan) one, it’s not malicious it’s just a miss timing. I don’t think the referees want to be sending people off. It’s more these are the guidelines that are in place so when there is an incident and someone’s down and they replay it then you’ve got to play that hand.
“I don’t think the officials are enjoying it. We all think it’s the right thing to do to make the game safer. Nobody wants head bangs in the game. I don’t think the officials are to blame and I don’t think the players are to blame. It’s just something we’ve got to work through and get a bit more clarity on what is realistic and what we can get out of the game.”