Richard Brown (RB): What do you think is a reasonable target for the team to aim for after last year's struggles?
Bryan Redpath (BR): Obviously we've got to better than last year. I think to get into the top six, you always have to have a good year so that would be a good target for us. Going on last year, we didn't start well so it's very hard to predict. We need to better than last year so we have to be in the top eight and then ideally push for the top six. One or two wins get you into the top six. From 8th to 5th, generally it's only one or two wins. You can be in there and be playing pretty well but then you can have one bad game at the end of the season and you're out of it, but top six is always the target for us.
RB: In terms of recruitment, what have yourself and Steve Diamond been looking for? There seems to have been a bit of a change of ethos away from the big money, big name signings towards those who will be more eager to impress and make a name for themselves. Was that an active decision that the management team made?
BR: Definitely. Steve and myself and the owners took a lot of flak in different times throughout the year. I think the key thing was that we went back to looking at the character of the player; obviously he has to be a good player but seeing what his character is like, seeing where he's been, what he's been up to and how he fits into this rugby club. We want to make sure the rugby club is still the first and foremost thing. There's a lot of stars around in Manchester at City and United and I don't think rugby here really attracts a crowd for superstars. A lot of people in this area who support rugby buy into people that are very committed, very honest, very hard working for the group and I think that's what we went for. All the players who have come in have done that and shown that in abundance.
RB: With that in mind, how have all the new boys settled into the squad dynamic?
BR: It's been very good. Mills and Kulemin, Fordy, Forsythe have all settled in well, Tommy Arscott and Mackenzie as well. They've all come from a tough background, four from London Welsh, so they know how hard it is to graft and fight every week but they've all settled in really well, and are pushing for places at the start of the season.
RB: Dan Braid has obviously now taken over as captain. Was he an obvious choice for the role and what qualities do you think he will bring to it?
BR: Him and Save Seymour are exceptional 7's, Dan can play 6 as well, but Dan's experienced in the Super 15 and with the All Blacks. He's a big asset to us and he's very calming around the other boys as well and him and Dave will share that role as much as possible. He speaks very well prior to the game, but also, when he needs to get upset about anything he doesn't necessarily do it by words, he does it by his actions in training or on the pitch. He's a good leader and Dave was the same last season. It takes a bit of pressure off Dave and gives a new challenge to Dan and it's one that he's been thriving on.
RB: What areas of the game have you been targeting most for improvement during pre-season?
BR: We've brought in Mike Forshaw to work on our defence and that, as well as the contact area is something you have to get right and we'll build our game from that. The set piece, at scrum time, has some new laws and calls which haven't been a huge issue but you have to get used to them. In general terms we're just happy with the group, focused on the defence and focused on getting the contact area and the tackling to come naturally.
RB: You've had good wins in pre-season, and hopefully one more to come on Friday (Cardiff). During the two games so far, who has really stood out and put their name forward for the Gloucester game?
BR: From a backs point of view, probably Tommy Arscott. Him and Forsythe have been pretty good. I think up front, it's been a mixture of a few of them. Dan Braid has done alright for forty and Dave Seymour. I think at times we've exhausted a little bit of drive at scrum time, but we've done that deliberately to see where the laws are going to take us. Generally, everyone is up for a chance and we need to play well again on Friday just to make sure that we're in a good position for Gloucester.
RB: Finally, of course it's Gloucester away first game of the season. Does that still have a bit of a personal edge for you or is it all strictly professional now?
BR: I never had an axe to grind with them and I think they did for a couple of months until they started doing well. It's a good place to play rugby as well so there's no animosity there, it's just a great challenge and a good chance for us to go down and compete better than we did last season.
RB: Thanks a lot. Good luck for the season.
Season Tickets are still available for the new season and can be booked by phoning 08444-994-994. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will call you back. Want to view the available seats at the stadium? Email email@example.com and we will arrange a convenient time for you to visit the stadium and we will show you the best available seats.
Our first home game is against Newcastle Falcons on Friday 13th September, kick off 8pm. You can buy tickets for the game by phoning 08444-994-994 or online at http://www.salesharks.com/tickets/individual.php