Exclusive: Gary Mercer

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Gary Mercer
Praise has been heaped on the Glasgow Warriors" defensive efforts over the last few weeks so this week, www.glasgowwarriors.org spoke to the man behind it all.

Gary Mercer, the Warriors" defence coach, is a rugby league icon having had spells with Bradford, Warrington and Leeds in England as well as a glittering international career with New Zealand.

The Warriors conceded nine tries in their first two games this season, but Mercer soon put that right as they only leaked two tries in their last four outings.

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Gary Mercer speaks to Andrew Henderson and Dan Parks during the win over Ulster

Praise has been heaped on the Glasgow Warriors" defensive efforts over the last few weeks so this week, www.glasgowwarriors.org spoke to the man behind it all.

Gary Mercer, the Warriors" defence coach, is a rugby league icon having had spells with Bradford, Warrington and Leeds in England as well as a glittering international career with New Zealand.

The Warriors conceded nine tries in their first two games this season, but Mercer soon put that right as they only leaked two tries in their last four outings.

He said: "Rugby league is very defensively orientated and when I came to Union I saw that teams didn't really work as hard on their defence as they tend to do now.

"It's a collective thing when you talk about defence. You have to have the right structure and work in the correct channels."

When asked what he meant by 'structure", be it on the training field, the field of play or in training, Mercer replied: "You have to defend as a group so structure is key to every part of your defence whether it be in a game or in training.

"What you practice on the training field, you have to take into a game. Without giving too much away, something we have worked on, and have become very good at, is our line speed. We are at present, good at shutting teams out who play an expansive style of rugby and we manipulate their attack effectively.

"We"re getting a lot of buy-in at the moment because the players see that the system works. We conceded something like nine tries in our first two games, and we"ve now only conceded two tries in our last four games.

"Pressure on the opposition and key players in particular, forces errors. Working on our defensive strategy means that we can nullify the opposition attack."

Mercer has also been impressed with the attitude of the players. 'the best form of attack is defence and it's a credit to the players because they have worked extremely hard and they have bought into what I"m trying to do here.

"After our first two beltings (away to Cardiff and the Ospreys), we didn't have enough leadership in the side but we then got our World Cup boys back which made a big difference. Daryl Gibson has also been a big influence here."

Looking ahead to this weekend's clash against Saracens at Vicarage road, Mercer concluded: "Our big test is this weekend; Saracens are a try-scoring side. We had pride in our line against Ulster so we will need to take that passion on the road with us to get a result."