New Glasgow head coach Danny Wilson accepts he isn’t the big name Warriors fans were wanting, but he’s proud of his track record and will definitely maintain the attacking game the club are renowned for.
Wilson has had a challenging few months of lockdown spent on research and video rather than hands-on coaching, and knows there’s a short five to six week window to get his ideas across to the squad before they begin action again.
But his short spell as an assistant to Gregor Townsend with Scotland hasn’t dimmed his own ambition nor his philosophy to play open, attractive rugby.
“I’m really proud of what I’ve been involved in as a head coach and the environments I’ve been involved in,” he said in his first interview as Warriors head coach. “I’ve been involved in Cardiff Blues winning a European trophy, taking an U20s team to a World Cup final and very proud of what we achieved as that group.
“Granted, I’m not a Dave Rennie name, I understand that, but I believe in my ability to do the job. I know it’s a very passionate rugby environment, going in to Glasgow as an away coach I felt that, and being there as a Scotland coach I know that.
“My focus is getting in the door, getting on the job, and hopefully adding value.”
The Blues under Wilson were known for an all-out attacking style, and he plans much the same at Scotstoun.
“Glasgow play a very fast, attacking brand of rugby, their attacking stats are phenomenal and have been for the past few years,” he pointed out.
“We want to keep that going and develop it because I think that’s what brings people in to watch. The players and supporters are passionate about it, so that identity is not going to change.
“When you go into a team, there’s your belief (in the way the game should be played), the respect for what’s gone before you in the way the team plays and the ability of players you have. I think all three of those meet very well here and we’ll keep developing that.”
For Wilson, he learned a lot from his time in Scotland but he wanted to be a head coach again.
“This is a great club to head coach and when those opportunities come up you might not get them again, so you grasp them,” he said.
“I learned a lot with Scotland, enjoyed some of it and didn’t enjoy other parts – going out of the World Cup the way we did I certainly didn’t enjoy. But I was keen to get back to head coaching.
“I believe in myself as a head coach and I enjoy the job. It’s your ownership to drive, your decisions to make along with your leadership group and senior players and senior staff.
“So I’m looking forward to doing that job again. But the exciting thing is at Glasgow we have that supporter base, passionate players and a great club to be a part of.”
Glasgow fans want to know how he plans to cover the departure of experienced veterans, but apart from securing Leone Nakarawa for another season, the rest has been on hold because of the lockdown.
“We have a couple more to make that will deal with the back five of the scrum area, and then we will see how the future lies when we come out of this period,” he said.
“A full-back is certainly part of the plans but that’s on hold and we’ll pick it up again.
“Leone makes a huge difference, we worked really hard over a period of time to keep him at Glasgow. There was interest from elsewhere – he is a world-class rugby player, I’ve experienced coaching against him and he is a real handful to prepare for.
“He has a fondness of Glasgow and he has had real positive experiences here, so that played in our favour, but there was still a bit of work to do as well. We are thrilled to have got there.”
Wilson doesn’t downplay the difficulty in preparing the team to finish off the season, but is up for the challenge.
“It’s the same challenge for everyone and it’s about accepting it and saying `how do we come out of this stronger than anyone else?’” he said.
“The guys have been out of proper gym conditioning for three or four months, so there is going to be a drop of muscle mass, and that muscle mass is the foundation of playing physical contact sports.
“The rugby bit really is a four-to-five week block, it’s much shorter than a normal pre-season to try and get up to speed, and we’re finishing last season so it’s a kind of different window to prepare for.
“We have those two games in August to start and see where we are, a small chance of play-offs but if not, move on to prepare for next season.”