Warriors coaches talk preparation for Toronto match
HERRIMAN — Things are much different for Utah Warriors Assistant Coach Robbie Abel at this early juncture of the Major League Rugby season, and that’s definitely a good thing.
Due to travel obstacles coming over from New Zealand, Abel joined the Warriors staff in late March last season, which presented certain obstacles and challenges. One year later, and those issues have been largely overcome as he’s now fully engrained at his post coaching the team’s forwards.
“We’ve been able to build a lot of identity,” Abel said. “We’ve been able to build on a lot of things that we were only starting last year…we’ve been able to consciously take steps forward and build on the things we did last year.”
The Warriors currently field a 2-2 record on the early season after playing three of their first four matches on the road, and enter the coming week working to fix certain issues incurred during a 37-14 loss to the NOLA Gold last week.
In the loss the Warriors started out fairly strong, but multiple missed opportunities snow-balled on them toward the end of the first half, with NOLA taking a commanding 25-0 lead into the half.
“It’s important that we start well this week,” said Warriors head coach Greg Cooper. “We need to control possession, control the ball and not give penalties away.”
Oh yeah, the penalties.
The Warriors again were issued yellow and red cards in the loss versus NOLA, forcing them to play a man down yet again for a significant amount of time and for almost the entirety of the second half. The good news is that the team largely rose to the occasion.
“We actually played pretty well with 14 on the field,” Abel said. “So there’s positives about the boys digging really deep and doing well in scenarios where it could have gone another direction.”
While pleased with effort, coaches certainly don’t want to find themselves playing down one player this Saturday when the team takes on the Toronto Arrows.
“There was a lot of character shown, but we don’t want to be in a situation where we’re chasing a game,” Cooper said. “We’re better than that…We’re not piecing the game in its entirety together, and that needs to change.”
As for the Arrows, they enter Saturday’s match with a 1-3 record on the year and are coming off a 29-3 loss at the hands of Old Glory DC.
“They’re a fighting team. They’re scrappers,” Cooper observed. “They look to me that they have a very good team spirit…These guys don’t go away and they’re aggressive…So we have to be aggressive and patient, because they’re not going away. They’re playing until the end.”
Saturday’s match issues in a stretch where the Warriors play three of their next four matches at home, which players and coaches hope to take full advantage of.
“It’s always important for us, as a group,” Abel said. “It’s important for us to show the fans that we care about this place. It’s important to me, personally, to continuously try to do that — to give a performance our fans can be proud of…Defending our home is something our players take very seriously.”
UTAH WARRIORS VS. TORONTO ARROWS
DATE: SATURDAY, MARCH 25
TIME: 2:30 PM MST
WHERE: ZIONS BANK STADIUM, HERRIMAN
BROADCAST: KMYU, TRN, ESPN700, KSLSPORTS.COM
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