Zander sees a difference in Townsend with Scotland

May 19 2017, 10.29pmUpdated: May 19 2017, 4.59pm
© SNS GroupZander Fagerson spots the difference between Gregor Townsend and Vern Cotter at training this week.
Zander Fagerson spots the difference between Gregor Townsend and Vern Cotter at training this week.

A new regime may be in place but the only change has been unexpected for Zander Fagerson as he prepares for his first international tour with Scotland this summer.

Gregor Townsend’s first Scotland camp at Oriam this week ahead of the three test tour to Singapore, Sydney and Suva in Fiji had plenty of similarities to Vern Cotter’s method but with one crucial difference, revealed the 21-year-old Dundee-born tighthead.

“One put the fear of God into you if you make a mistake and the other says, just do it again,” he joked.

“It’s been weird to finish the season with Glasgow and Gregor and then come back in here and it feels like a Glasgow session,” he admitted.

“It’s different in that we’re all getting to know each other again. You’ve been able to make a mistake this week and not get yelled at, instead of with Vern you’d get a bollocking!”

But although half of Townsend’s squad are his old charges at Glasgow, there is definitely a feeling that “the slate has been wiped clean” according to Fagerson.

“I’d say his approach has changed from with Glasgow, it’s more detailed certainly,” he said. “We’re recapping a few things from Glasgow, but there’s new things as well.

“I think everyone has had to adjust to be honest. There’s a few of the calls I’m thinking `We’ve never done that before’.

“Gregor’s always been meticulous with what he does but there’s very acute details now. It’s not like with Vern but if you muck it up or run a wrong line you’ll know about it.”

So the only help Zander has been able to give the Edinburgh players and exiles about working with Gregor is “two sugars and no milk!”

“Vern and Gregor are two fantastic coaches and both get their point across,” he continues.

“Gregor likes a review and seeing you doing your work and going over your clips, he likes you to do that instead of him coming to you. Vern was pretty much the same, he’d soon call you out if you did something wrong.

“Vern is obviously a Kiwi but Gregor likes to play in that style, an expansive game. The game is changing all the time, I don’t think it’s all about scrum and maul, there were very few tries in the Six Nations scored that way.

“We pride ourselves on an expansive game and it’s the way Gregor wants to play. I’ll happily do the hard yards and setpiece but I like to play with the ball in my hands as well.”

This will be Zander’s first tour as a professional and he’s looking forward to the “bond-building” with other members of the squad.

“It’s a tough tour but a great way for Gregor to start, I think,” he added. “Three games away from home will shake us out of our comfort zone.

“All the guys have still to come together and we’ve just been going back to basics, lots of reps of the stuff he wants us to do. I imagine when everyone’s together we’ll work on overall gameplan.

“But this week and next are very useful in giving a big chunk of the squad the kind of preparation we wouldn’t have had before going on tour.”

And having played eight internationals in a row since WP Nel fell injured, Zander now has a proper battle on his hands for the No 3 jersey, with the Edinburgh prop coming through the first week at full steam along with two others coming back from injury, Josh Strauss and Magnus Bradbury.

“I wouldn’t have believed you 12 months ago if you’d daid I’d play every game but certain things happen,” he said. “I’ve loved it, really enjoyed the experience and I’ve brought my game on a bit as well.

“It’s always an honour to play for Scotland and to have played eight in a row is just a dream come true. All I want to do is keep going.

“WP is a good guy and I’ve always had a lot of time for him. We’ve had a good relationship and talked to each other about the position.

“Competition is always good and I’m looking forward to challenging for that position.”

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