GLASGOW assistant coach Mike Blair believes the team’s next three games could define their season - and is confident that the players will rise to the occasion.
With a PRO12 match against Cardiff at the weekend then the last two Champions Cup pool games, the Warriors could be in the top four of the league and the quarter-finals in Europe by the end of the month. They stretched their winning run to four with victory in Treviso on Hogmanay, and Blair is sure that Saturday’s match at Scotstoun will see another raucous crowd get right behind the team.
“It’s a big three weeks for us and in a way they define our season,” the former Scotland scrum-half said yesterday. “We certainly don’t want to drop off the top four in the PRO12.
“It’s a tough run of games for us but we’re at home to Cardiff, we’ve had a good record at home up until a few weeks ago. The crowd at home have really lifted us - the Racing game at home a couple of weeks ago was an incredible atmosphere and there are a few of us who hadn’t experienced anything like that at a club game before. But it’s a big game this week again and we’ve got a bunch of players who want to get out there and perform well.”
The Warriors beat Racing 92 home and away to get back into contention in the Champions Cup, and after the Cardiff match they are at home again to Munster before ending the pool stages with a visit to Leicester. They are getting back towards top form at just the right time, having lost three games in a row in November and early December, including a couple at Scotstoun.
“We’d had a couple of tough games at home,” Blair said. “I don’t know what it was about the Racing game - it was always going to be a really tough game for us, because winning over in Paris we were expecting a reaction from them.
“We’d heard that the Racing president, Jacky Lorenzetti, had been in the dressing room giving them an ultimatum and telling them their contracts were on the line if they didn’t perform. For us to put that kind of back-to-back performances together, the second in front of our home crowd in those circumstances after a couple of sticky games at home, was really big for the club.”
Racing were unable to match the Warriors’ high tempo on Scotstoun’s 3G pitch, but Blair knows that Cardiff will be up to speed as they play on an artificial surface themselves. “The surface is what they’re used to and they’re playing a good brand of rugby as well.
“We were on the end of a loss down there earlier in the season and they defended really well against us. They’ve had three opensides playing in their back row ,which is a real threat to us. I thought we dealt with them in the game down there, but we weren’t quite as clinical as we needed to be.
“But we believe there’s been some good signs the last few weeks that we can build on. We have an attack that’s capable of taking on their defence.”
The Warriors team for the Cardiff game will be announced tomorrow. The match on Saturday kicks off at 7.35pm.