‘When in France, do as the French do’, is the motto Glasgow Warriors will adopt for their trip to Stade Marcel Deflandre on Sunday to take on La Rochelle on the opening weekend of this season’s European Champions Cup campaign, according to attack coach Nigel Carolan.
The Irishman says that his team recognise that they face a huge challenge against last year’s Champions Cup beaten finalists but will draw confidence from having secured a 24-27 when the two sides met at the same venue in December 2019.
“We’re going to one of the big teams in France and taking them on in their back garden, so what better way to win than play a French style of rugby against them,” said Carolan who joined the Warriors coaching team from Connacht during the summer.
“They do exactly what it says on the tin – they are physically a massive team, but they are not afraid to have a go. So, it is a scary prospect when you are talking about a team of that size who are willing to throw the ball around.
“But we’re trying to focus on our own game and what we can do to hurt them. We need to keep the ball for multiple phases – keep it away from them – and if we can work for each other, with accuracy, then I think there is a massive opportunity there. If we can get our game to click, then I think we’ll score points.”
While last Saturday’s bonus-point home win over Dragons in the United Rugby Championship was a step in the right direction, Carolan knows that this weekend’s match will be a whole different ball game.
“We were pleased to get a win and five league points against the Dragons on Saturday, but there’s a lot we’ve got to improve if we really want to be serious about competing in the Champions Cup,” he conceded. “There are parts of our game we just need to be tidier with. It was brilliant to score five tries, but we left five more tries out there as well.
“So, we’ve looked at ways we can be better, and it is positive that we can see where there is room for improvement.”
A big bonus for Warriors was that they didn’t pick up any new injuries during the Dragons game, and with most of their internationalists having managed a weekend off during the fortnight since the end of the Autumn Test series, the squad is in as good shape as could reasonably be hoped for at this stage of the season.
Scott Cummings is touch-and-go with a shoulder injury, while Fraser Brown (knee) and Simon Berghan (achilles) will not feature, but apart from that all the front-liners will be available this weekend.