- Mid-week message spurs Ross on to flawless performance from the tee
- “I told him if he missed any kicks this week he’d be in the stand” – London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell
Photo: Tania Richards Photography
A few choice words from Justin Burnell were all that was needed to help Gordon Ross rediscover his kicking boots.
London Welsh fly half and assistant coach Ross, who landed just three kicks from seven attempts against Bedford Blues, roared back to form in Sunday’s win over Nottingham with a 26-point haul – and all thanks to a mid-week challenge from the Exiles head coach.
“I told him if he missed any kicks this week he’d be in the stand next to me as assistant coach for the Plymouth game,” said Burnell.
“It was all a bit of banter, but it obviously worked. He was chosen as Sky’s man of the match and rightly so.
“We’ve got a good spirit in the camp, on and off the field, and between Gordon and [assistant coach] Matt Davies, their emphasis on detail is fantastic. They deserve a huge amount of credit, along with our medical staff and our conditioners. We’ve got a brilliant environment with brilliant staff.”
Ross added jokingly: “I took a fair bit of stick after last week at the Allianz, so it was nice to prove my doubters within the squad wrong.”
After the boot of Ross had seen the Exiles take a 15-9 lead into the break following a tight and physical first half – particularly at the scrum – four second-half tries from Carl Kirwan, Rhys Crane, Seb Stegmann and Dante Mama secured a bonus-point win for Welsh.
“We’re never going to roll over, but what came through once again was our work-rate and our attitude towards each other within the squad,” said Burnell. “Our bench also made a massive difference when they came on.
“We just sat down [at half-time] and spoke about our approach to the game – we just lacked composure. We go on to the field and think that we have to do something immediately. We’ve just got to calm down, realise what areas of the field we’re in and what we need to do.
“We knew how difficult [the scrum] was going to be and in all fairness to Nottingham they certainly made it hard for us. I’m very pleased to get a bonus point win on the road.”
After wins over Bedford at Allianz Park and at Meadow Lane on Sunday, the Exiles make their Greene King IPA Championship bow at the Kassam Stadium next Saturday when they welcome Plymouth Albion.
“For us to go back to Oxford now is massive,” Burnell finished. “We had some great support for our pre-season games against Chinnor and Henley, and at the Kassam against the Scarlets, so we’re excited about returning there. I think it’s going to be a great afternoon of rugby.”