FO­CUS ON CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

Rugby World - - STEPHEN JONES -

What has changed af­ter Eal­ing’s sec­ond-place fin­ish last sea­son? One of the glar­ing fac­tors is that head coach Alex Codling left. He took care of a lot of things here. Then things didn’t work out with James Buck­land (who left af­ter the open­ing game). It’s dif­fi­cult. With 26 or 27 new play­ers, it will take time for us to find out how we play. You’ve still had big early wins. What’s made that pos­si­ble?

We pride our­selves on our work-rate. I’ve heard peo­ple say that we just play one way, that we spin it wide-wide. But we are com­fort­able bring­ing our work-rate. Who has stood out in green so far? In the back row Ben Landry has been re­ally use­ful for us, both on and off the field, and Jordy Reid has also been great there. We have a few in­juries and have had to make a few changes in the front row, but it’s worked. Pat Howard at 12 does ev­ery­thing you want of a cen­tre, too. How com­pet­i­tive will the Cham­pi­onship be this sea­son?

This is my third sea­son here. It might be a bit slower than the Premier­ship but it is no less of a slog. The loss against Lon­don Irish could have gone bet­ter (7-20), but against Cor­nish Pi­rates we were around 20 points down and ended up win­ning by six points (41-35).

We need to be re­lent­less. When we are ahead we need to keep play­ing, not go into our shells. First halves and starts have been good. How big are the am­bi­tions here? I’ve seen some ar­ti­cles say­ing that Eal­ing are ‘bullish’ about want­ing to get pro­moted to the Premier­ship. We just set our sights re­ally high.

If you’re not go­ing for that ul­ti­mate goal, what’s the point? Any player who says that they don’t want to play at that top level is ly­ing.

Over the line Scor­ing in the 42-24win over York­shire

Big carry Smid at work

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