Gallagher Premiership break hard to work around say Savage and Heinz

Gloucester defeat Exeter in tense Premiership fixture
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Following Friday’s victory over the then league leaders Exeter Gloucester players Tom Savage and Willi Heinz spoke to the media about the Gallagher Premiership break being hard to work around, contract negotiations and strong physicality all round.

Big shift required to overhaul Chiefs

Speaking to the media Savage explained just how hard it was to finish off the Chiefs saying, ”It was stressful at the end and credit to the boys for the shift they put in. We knew it was a huge game and if your discipline is poor Chiefs are going to put you in the corner like they did, and you’ll be battling for the game. It was a massive shift from everyone tonight and it’s great to grind out the win.

”They’re up in the league where they are because of the quality that they’ve got and the defence they show. They were tough to score against and we had some well worked tries and we’ll review it and probably say we had a few [tries] out there but there’s always things to work on and review it next week.

Period away makes physical side of the game hard

Having such a long time off from regular competitive rugby will obviously cause issues in keeping up physicality and makes it hard to hit such heights when they returned against one of Europe’s top sides.

Discussing the matter Savage explained, ”It’s been disjointed. I came off the back of a ban then played a game in France and then it was a week off and then I played against Bath. We had an internal review to see how the team is going mid-season and worked on a lot of things behind the scenes.

”The breaks are hard to manage and there’s not much you can do but you don’t know if you’re working hard compared to other teams, but I feel the coaches and conditioning staff worked us hard.

”You need to trust the date that they have on the GPS systems, they monitor us so well, so you know what you need to hit in training to replicate game time. Forwards have been doing the grafting and some set piece so luckily it all paid off.

”The fitness levels were awesome tonight.”

First start with Mostert

Having started with Franco Mostert for the first time Savage revealed the skill level of the South African lock saying, ”It’s the first time we’ve started together. He’s got great international experience, but his work rate, fitness and calm head around the lineout helps. Keeping up with him in phase play is the hardest thing.”

The pair worked well at the set piece and looking at the lineout he said, ”It’s an area we’ve been working on and we did a lot of homework on it in the week and we use it really hard. We went in there with a plan and fair play to the boys for sticking with it.

”Chiefs are a quality driving outfit and if you do manage to stop it then they’ve got pick and go game off the back of it. They’ve not just got eight forwards in there but a few backs too.”

Heinz relieved to be back

Having spent a fair bit of time out this season Heinz was relieved to be back amongst the action and made it on to the score sheet saying,

”It’s been a pretty frustrating season with a number of injuries, but I wasn’t the only one returning tonight and the lungs were burning quite a bit.

”It’s just good to finish an opportunity as we came in at half time and we were frustrated that we’d been in their 22 three or four times and been too eager and not having numbers around the ball forced errors. That was something we focused more on in the second half was being more patient, getting the ball and being on top.”

Gallagher Premiership break frustrating for the captain

”It’s been a frustrating five or six weeks with results and the time off gave us time to identify and work on those areas of our game that we hadn’t been pitching up in. We focused hard on them and when you don’t have the game at the end of the week you can go harder in training and get that physicality back up that had been lacking.” Said Heinz.

He also said, ”It may have been a little bit of that, an over-eagerness to force the play and score too soon rather than waiting for the opportunity to open up.”

Great to break losing streak in tough Premiership line-up

Ending a losing streak can be somewhat of a task. Made even harder when that task lies on you defeating the then league leaders. Explaining their situation Heinz explained, ”It can be tough to break the mold sometimes but the last few weeks we’ve been able to refine our game and go back to basics, what are the things that lead us to success and it’s great to see the boys buying into that.

”The Premiership’s so tough from first to bottom. We must prepare like this for every game and not just Exeter or Saracens and if you don’t you get bit hard, as we’ve found out.”

Contract negotiation

Talking in relation to his contract scenario he said, ”As far as I’m aware I’m still hanging around for another year, I love playing for Gloucester and keen to stay as long as I can.”

Half time team talk worked wonders

Johan Ackermann’s half time message must have been something enlightening to the squad as they resumed play committing fewer errors with Heinz saying, ”We said at half time the plan is working for us but it’s our composure when we do get into good areas of the pitch. We overplayed the hands a bit, we took the messages from the coaches on board and managed to play the majority of the game in Exeter’s half.

”If you’re stuck in the half and they’re on the ball then they’ll get scoring opportunities.”

Gloucester return to Kingsholm next Friday when they’ll face the league leaders Saracens.