Cham­pi­onship is tough life now says Rei­hana

The Rugby Paper - - News - ■ By NEALE HAR­VEY

BRIS­TOL backs coach Bruce Rei­hana reck­ons Cham­pi­onship rugby is a far tougher propo­si­tion now than when he played in Eng­land’s se­cond tier for Northamp­ton.

Rei­hana was part of the Saints team rel­e­gated in 2007 but bounced back at the first at­tempt, run­ning through the card to win all 30 league matches in a 2007-8 cam­paign in which Chris Ash­ton notched a stag­ger­ing 39 tries and Rei­hana con­trib­uted 28.

How­ever, hav­ing seen his Bris­tol side pushed close by Hart­pury and Cor­nish Pi­rates in their open­ing games this sea­son, Rei­hana told The Rugby

Pa­per: “Teams in the Cham­pi­onship are a lot more rounded now and they have a lot more strength and power.

“That means they can take you when you’re not on your game and ev­ery­thing’s stepped up a level, so it shows we need to be at our best week-in, week-out.

“I’ve been in this league be­fore so I know that for ev­ery team that plays us it’s a Test match.

“It’s all on the line for them and they want to take you down, so for us now it’s about work­ing hard to elim­i­nate mis­takes and grow stronger week-by­week.”

Ti­tle favourites Bris­tol take on Rich­mond to­day in a game they should win, but Rei­hana vividly re­mem­bers Northamp­ton nearly los­ing their proud un­beaten record to lowly New­bury, who now ply their trade at Level 5 in the South West Premier.

Rei­hana re­calls: “New­bury came to Franklin’s Gar­dens, re­ally got stuck in and it was very scary.

“We ended up scrap­ing past them 24-23 and I’ve told our guys here about that be­cause on any given day you just never know what is go­ing to hap­pen.

“No mat­ter what the op­po­si­tion it’s all down to how you per­form on the day, but we’ve been pre­par­ing hard for Rich­mond as we con­tinue to mould a new group of play­ers to­gether, I’m con­fi­dent you’ll see weekly im­prove­ment.”

As a for­mer All Blacks full-back, Rei­hana came un­der the tute­lage of New Zealand coach­ing guru Wayne Smith dur­ing his play­ing days – and it is Smith’s in­flu­ence that burns bright­est as the 41year-old looks to de­velop his own coach­ing ca­reer.

Rei­hana ex­plained: “Wayne had a huge im­pact on me. He was a very hard worker but what I also found was he coached the in­di­vid­ual be­fore he coached the col­lec­tive.

“Be­fore you become a team you’re a bunch of in­di­vid­u­als, but if you do the best you can by coach­ing the in­di­vid­ual to be the best he can be at his par­tic­u­lar roles, then ef­fec­tively you’ll end up be­com­ing a much stronger all-round team.

“It’s cer­tainly served the teams Wayne’s been in­volved in very well, like Northamp­ton, the Chiefs and New Zealand, who won two World Cups with him in­volved, so I’m look­ing for­ward to what’s com­ing with Bris­tol in the fu­ture.”

Rei­hana added: “It’s re­ally ex­cit­ing to have a new squad and coach­ing staff and I’m a very pos­i­tive and en­er­gised per­son any­way.

“That fits in with what we’re try­ing to mould here in one of the best high per­for­mance set-ups I’ve seen.

“I loved my time in Eng­land with Saints, so af­ter be­ing in France with Bordeaux for a few years, it was an easy de­ci­sion to come back and help Bris­tol become a force.

“I al­ways loved play­ing at Bris­tol and en­joyed the pas­sion of the fans.”

PIC­TURES: Getty Images

Force to be reck­oned with: Saints flyer Bruce Rei­hana hands off a young Jonny May in 2010

In­flu­ence: Wayne Smith

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