No excuses in defeat, but the wins will come
Published 16/09/2016 | 02:30
There is no doubt we're disappointed as a team with the results from the opening two rounds of the Guinness Pro12. We have always had high expectations for ourselves, even before winning the competition last season, so there is no denying that the players and coaching staff are not happy with the results.
But we are working extremely hard on the back of that disappointment and using it in training - that's clear for us all to see.
We always knew Glasgow Warriors and Ospreys, as two of the top teams in the league, were going to be very tough opposition for the opening rounds. And although the game against Ospreys finished the way it did with three tries leaked in the last ten minutes, I think there was a massive improvement from week one to week two.
For 71 minutes against Ospreys we were well in the game, but then the wheels fell off towards the end as we chased the win with time running out.
There certainly wasn't a lack of effort from anyone, but when you make even small mistakes against quality teams like Ospreys or Glasgow, they will punish you.
But we all know that we haven't reached the standards that we expect of ourselves either.
Everyone has been preparing as well as they can this week and with huge intensity for the trip to face Zebre tomorrow.
People talk a lot and ask us about new expectations this season on the back of last year's success. As a team going into games, it's not something we focus on. We have our own expectations for ourselves and our performances and that's what we worry about.
At the same time, we don't make excuses for the opening losses. We haven't played as well as we know we can so it's up to us to turn that around and continue to learn week in week out.
The support we have received from our fans and everyone at the Sportsground has been incredible as usual.
That was shown last week when so many of the crowd stayed behind to clap the team off the pitch. The players were hurting after that defeat but having that rock solid support beside us is really appreciated and just makes us want to work even harder every day.
More of that support was evident this week when we were invited for a civic reception by the Galway County Council. Players, staff and management went up and met the mayor and some of Galway's councillors.
It was a great event organised to mark the occasion of us winning the Pro12 trophy last season. It was good to get the opportunity to go up there and meet with everyone and to thank them for their support.
During the event we received a presentation from Mayor Michael Connolly on behalf of the County Council which was a really nice touch. We've no doubt that a lot of work goes into these events and we just really appreciate the level of support shown from right across the province and country.
This morning we took off for Italy for our first away game of the season - a trip we'll be making again for the Champions Cup in a few weeks' time.
As team manager this is one of my busier weeks of the season, but the real groundwork for the trip is done as soon as the fixtures are firmed up in the summer. A lot of people might look for the home derbies in the fixture lists, but for me I look at the dates for the Italian trips and the other away days straight away.
We've been here a lot over the last few years so it's a trip that we are used to at this stage. We travelled as far as Dublin airport last night, took an early flight this morning and once we arrive the boys will rest up for a few hours ahead of the captain's run this afternoon. They'll have some down time at the hotel this evening playing cards or they might take a stroll around the town.
When things go smoothly in a hotel we always tend to return to the same place, and in Parma we always stick to the same venue.
It's a favourite trip of the players and the management too, mainly because the food in the hotel we stay in is fantastic. When the players are comfortable and well fed, it makes everything easier in terms of our preparation.
It's been a good week's preparation and that gives the team the best chance of a positive performance and result come tomorrow afternoon.