We welcome the Cell C Sharks for their first visit to the Swansea.com Stadium as one of the new South African sides in the new United Rugby Championship.
All of us are looking forward to the challenge posed by the Sharks and we know we will face a very committed and very abrasive group, one that prides themselves on their set piece.
We are the same, as you saw against Cardiff Rugby, so that will be the challenge within the challenge this evening. It’s one we are really excited about.
It was great to welcome the supporters back to the Swansea.com Stadium last week and we loved having a real atmosphere with all the emotions around that.
It was noticeable how excited everybody was in the group and we tried to stay calm around what was a new experience for some of us. Hopefully, we can give you something to cheer about this evening.
This week has been a challenge, with a short turnaround after the Cardiff game and that is always a challenge on a physical and mental basis.
It has meant that we have focussed our strategy this week on being mentally and physically fresh for the challenge the Sharks will present us with.
While we have managed to win two Welsh derbies, and that is important to the players and the region, we have also built some momentum and have something to build on.
It is always good to win and there has been an air of excitement about the place for the players and coaches. This is a new challenge for us and one this group of players has not encountered before.
Although we did enough to win against the Dragons and Cardiff, the players weren’t satisfied with the performance and as a coach that is a really encouraging sign.
It means there is an appetite and a desire to improve despite getting the ‘W’. Every coach wants a group of players who believe they can do better and want to improve. To have that energy around the place is infectious and sets the tone for the week, if we can harness that, we will improve quickly.
As you have seen, we have been very careful with our recruitment and it’s not just about bringing the right talent into the building, but also bringing the right character into the building.
The one certainty is that players won’t play every minute of every game through a season and to have players who understand that and who are prepared to work for the greater good of the team is key.
We have been very strategic around our recruitment and it has started to manifest itself in the squad we are building. That was something that we were very deliberate about and after two games it is starting to pay dividends.
We are trying to build strength in depth and improve our capability, something every coach wants. Trying to build and make the squad more robust will be key to our success.
The team thank you for your continued support.