Andy Last Talks Confidence And The ‘Six Again’ Rule

Andy Last Talks Confidence And The ‘Six Again’ Rule

Andy Last has described his confidence in both himself and his squad as final preparations take place for this weekend’s clash against Salford Red Devils at Emerald Headingley.

Club News

Andy Last has described his confidence in both himself and his squad as final preparations take place for this weekend’s clash against Salford Red Devils at Emerald Headingley.

After over two decades at the club, Last will take charge of the first-team for the very first time in a competitive match on Sunday having took the interim head coach role days before lockdown.

And speaking in his pre-match press conference earlier this week, brought to you in association with Jacuzzi®, Last expalined that based on what he has seen from his squad in training in recent weeks, both himself and his squad are ready for the restart.

“I’m very confident in our ability.

“On the way we’ve trained over the last few weeks, I’d be confident in taking on any team in the competition at the moment. But what we have to do is transfer that onto the field – that’s the final piece of the jigsaw.

“I think I’m ready too. There has been a shift in my own mindset since we came back from lockdown. I feel comfortable in the position as head coach, I like the responsibility of directing the staff and leading the playing group. It’s challenging, but exciting at the same time.

“I’ve been at the club a long time and understand the expectations of the supporters – I meet my own expectations. I want to win and I let the boys know that I want to see them compete hard in every session and every game, and that helps create a winning environment.”

And Last believes the squad has reacted positively to the change in leadership, adding: “The players have reacted positively.

“I had a good relationship with them as assistant coach already which is really important in that position as you’re the go-between them and the head coach. I’ve known a lot of the senior blokes a long time and having good relationships with them really helps – the likes of Danny Houghton, Scott Taylor and Gareth Ellis.”

Explaining how important it is to start posiitvely this weekend, Last said: “It’s important. Mahe Fonua said last week that its no longer a marathon, its a sprint now, and we need to start that sprint with a positive start this week, giving us some confidence and a feelgood factor.

“When you have that, we’re a tough team to come up against. Its the inconsistencies that have let us down over the past few years so we need to cut them out.

On this weekend’s opposition, Last is expecting a threatening Red Devils side to make the most of the new ‘six again’ rule where possible.

“We’re expecting them to be dangerous. They didn’t have the best of starts but put in a great performance against Wigan and showed what they are capable of. Ian Watson has done an outstanding job in terms recruitment and what they did last year, and they’ll be looking to string some wins together.

“They have a very fit team. Their conditioner is highly regarded throughout the game so we will have to be wary of the ‘six again’ rule as that could suit the way they play – they play fast and on the front foot, and that is evident with the signing of Morgan Escare, who fits the bill for them.

“For us, the new rule could change the dynamic of the team. Our more mobile, smaller blokes in the middle of the field could become more effective.

“It allows your ball players to get a bit more on the front foot; the likes of Sneyd, Shaul, Kelly, Houghton and Connor, it will play right into their hands. I’m hoping our big blokes can get some ruck wins, earn some extra sets and show what we can do with the new rule.

“I’m just glad they’ve completed lots of running training during lockdown – the speed of the game has jacked up a lot. You can see how quickly momentum can be gained and how difficult it can be to break it.

“You saw that with Leeds against Hudderfield – as soon as Leeds got a sniff, the Giants just couldn’t break the chain with the Rhinos getting a roll on thanks to that new rule. It makes me excited about what we could do when we have the momentum, but we have to make sure we defend with energy and aggression when we don’t have the ball.”

And Last believes his squad must create their own atmosphere and energy, given the stands at Headingley will not feature any Black & White supporters.

“The atmosphere which we can create has been evident at the training ground – we’re behind-closed-doors every day at training, and we’re really conscious of creating our own energy and enthusiasm. There will be plenty watching back home – we know they will be there in spirit, and we want to put on a show for them.”