Solomons: We have to perform strongly to right last week’s wrong
IF EDINBURGH’S players thought Italy was tough last week, wait until they see what is in store for them in the west of Ireland this weekend. Alan Solomons, their head coach, is in no doubt that his players messed up the easier of the two assignments and with the Scotland internationals in his squad about to rejoin training after the World Cup, those who have been representing the club are under pressure.
“The competition will heighten their performance,” he said. “If the squad is at full strength, which is very rare, then these guys are competitors and they know the competition is coming.
“That is why they need to perform strongly; they also need to perform strongly to put right last week’s performance, which was well below our usual standards.
“This game will be miles tougher. Playing in Italy is always tough but, though Connacht have one or two injuries, they have had very few players away at the World Cup and Robbie Henshaw and Nathan White are both back in play, while we have 14 players out with a combination of injuries and World Cup players who need this extra week.”
Solomons is in an odd position. If you had turned to him in August and offered him four wins and a single defeat from the opening phase of the season, he would probably have grabbed it. Now that that is their record, he is visibly annoyed, not by the overall record but by the nature of that defeat at a ground where he knows most teams will be gunning for wins and try bonuses.
“I still feel it was a game we could have and should have won but I am pleased with the start we have had. I’m pleased for the team,” he said. “We didn’t play well and didn’t deserve to win the game. Once your performance dips you start to find there are turnovers from knock-ons, balls lost in contact; at the breakdown with side entries and going off your feet. All these little things you don’t do well when your performance dips and that makes a huge difference.”
The important challenge the players face this week is to put their last performance and the threat to their places as the representatives from the World Cup return to one side and concentrate on the immediate task at hand in trying to down Connacht.
“We have to look at how we track at the weekend and then work out how we deal with the players coming back, but it will be great to have all our Scottish boys again,” Solomons added. “This will be a much tougher game, I think the players know that. What we have focused on is that we have to lift our performance against them. We had a drop off after the game against Ulster and now we need to deliver another one close to that level; without that we don’t have a prospect of success.”
REACTION: Alan Solomons expects his Edinburgh side to respond after a poor display in the 19-11 loss to Zebre