After the resounding victory at Priory Park last weekend over local rivals Fylde, Macclesfield Blues travel down to the Midlands to take on Coventry, one of the toughest teams in National 1. As far as challenges go, games don’t really come tougher than this. Coventry are one of the league’s full-time teams, so they are at an obvious advantage. The challenge for the Blues is to remain competitive against a professional outfit. Have Macclesfield Blues got what it takes to come away with a result? Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, certainly thinks so. Here’s what Giles had to say.
You said last week that you thought the team had the capability to do some damage in the league this season, is Saturday’s result proof of this?
“That’s a good question. I think it showed a lot of people in the playing group, as well as outside, that we are a very good rugby team. That’s not to say that people weren’t aware of that before, but I think the performance just re-emphasised that point.”
“Fylde are a very good established National 1 team with a playing style that can cause problems. We saw evidence of that in the last 15 minutes or so of the game when they got it together and clicked into gear. However, I think what the result really showed is that we are capable of playing with the necessary level of intensity to perform effectively in National 1. We’ve shown that we have that intensity in the last two games, and that pleases me immensely.”
Are there still areas of the game where you feel the Blues can improve?
“I talked a lot last year about continued evolution, and that same philosophy applies equally to this campaign. We’re challenging players to do things some may have not done before, or others not done for a long time; and that process continues. The result at the weekend was pleasing, but there were two particular moments which pleased even more, and that was when some of the stuff we’ve been working on in pre-season and in the last couple of weeks happened. As a coach you always want to win, but when you see moments like that you know the players are starting to get a bit of confidence and trust in each other and in the system. That’s a big step forward and one we’ll continue to work on and improve on.”
“What we’ve got to do from now on is to make sure that system is embedded and becomes habitual. Building systems like this takes time at the best of times, but is particularly difficult when you’re under duress from an opponent. But we’re on the right track I think, and we’ll continue to work on it.”
How tough a challenge will Coventry pose?
“Coventry are full-time, so yes it will obviously be very tough and present us with a huge challenge. There is a degree of disparity in the league, but everybody knows that and you just have to get on with it. It will be tough, but we’ll be prepared. We’ve done a thorough preview and briefing for the game and we’ll prepare the boys on Tuesday and Thursday. We’ll travel down there on Saturday with the intention of winning the game. We’re quite open about the fact that this is the way we’ll be approaching every game week-in week-out this season.”
“We know it will be tough, but it will be tough in a different way to Fylde and Esher. That’s one of the exciting things about playing rugby at National 1 level. No opponent is the same. I mean no disrespect to teams in National 2, but it is true that there are a lot of similarities between the teams. In National 1 that really isn’t the case. Coventry will present a great test for us, as they are a team who you would assume have title aspirations. If they really are the benchmark for the league, then we get to test ourselves against that. Maybe we’ll also be able to use the game to show people where we are as well.”