Rugby Union

Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes puts emphasis on the group

Ulster Rugby head coach Jono Gibbes during the media conference ahead of Ulster's round two Guinness PRO14 League clash against Treviso in Italy this weekend Picture by John Dickson / DICKSONDIGITAL
By John Flack

JONO Gibbes has been quick to emphasise what he believes is the overriding importance of the collective over the individual as he attempts to do his bit to end Ulster's trophy drought which goes back to 2006.

Addressing the media for the first time since his appointment as head coach to succeed Neil Doak, the New Zealander is hoping to build on a solid start to the new PRO14 following a

six-try demolition of South African newcomers, the Cheetahs, last Friday night.

Gibbes spent the last three seasons as forwards coach to Clermont Auvergne, helping the French side to a Top 14 title and six years before that in a similar role at Leinster, during which they won three European Cups.

“I think there's talent in the group, different levels of experience, different backgrounds and there's guys with varying degrees of international experience; so, lots of good pieces so it's about trying to mould that together into one direction and one force,” said the 40-year-old.

Exemplifying his ‘all for one, one for all' philosophy, Gibbes was reluctant to single out individuals in the wake of Friday night's win over the Cheetahs, after which back-row forwards Marcell Coetzee and Jean Deysel earned glowing reviews.

“If we don't shine too much light on individuals and (instead) look at the work that was done before in the ruck to give Marcell quick ball; that stuff's very important, so too was the quality of the nine (scrum-half).” he added.

“We see things that shine out in the bright lights and that's great but we've got to make sure that we're always working hard and making sure our teamwork is right there.

“After the game against the Cheetahs, what was talked about in the changing-shed was that it was a great start but that was also attributed to the players who weren't in the (match day) 23, who actually set us up for the Friday night.

“The guys who didn't get written about in the paper because they didn't play actually had a massive contribution, so that acknowledgement is that we are a whole group.

“Some individuals will get written about, that's the way the game is (but) what we do as a whole as a group is more important.

“That's why we don't have a first team selection as such; there's opportunities for everyone and pressure on everyone to be good and to be given an opportunity but to take the responsibility that comes with it.”

Next up for Ulster is a trip to Italy to face Treviso on Saturday when the province will be aiming to make it nine away wins in a row against the tournament's perennial strugglers.

“There's an opportunity for an away performance; that's as far as we look and we will try to make sure we perform well and that our collective is as strong as possible.” Gibbes said.

“We'll take a few clues from the Cheetahs game and highlight a few things that we need to make sure are right for Treviso and we'll make some changes to the team.

“I hope the guys that go over there pick up on the performance, heed the lessons from the post-match analysis and take what we've trained on into Saturday.”

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