Newly appointed Edinburgh rugby captain Mike Coman believes that the secret to successful leadership is producing solid personal performances.
The 26-year-old was confirmed in the leadership role yesterday, having skippered sides in his native New Zealand during the early part of his career before being handed the responsibility at Edinburgh several times last season.
Describing his approach to the role, Coman said: “First and foremost I worry about performance and playing well. It’s a lot easier to lead a side if you are performing well yourself. Off the field you’ve got to be aware of what’s going on. There is no particular style I will follow exactly but play the best you can and take it from there.
“Last year when I arrived I spoke to some of the senior guys before the games where I was captain. It was pretty easy to get on board and lead the side. Nothing will change dramatically from last season.”
Although Coman has nominally been handed the task of steering Edinburgh’s fortunes as they seek to bounce back from last season’s disappointing campaign, the back row man is actually one part of a five-strong leadership group that means he has the backing of Ross Ford, Andries Strauss, Matt Scott and Grant Gilchrist who will be vice-captain.
While he will have overall responsibility, Coman, who made 11 appearances for Edinburgh after arriving last September, is comfortable with the group approach.
“I’ve been in a lot of situations in games where it is high pressure. As part of my way of leading, I’ve just got to perform as well as I can. With guys like Grant around me it’s a pretty simple job really,” he added.
“It’s about us as a leadership group at all times demanding high standards. If we do that on the field it is going to transfer into consistency in games and that’s what we need really – to start being consistent with good performances. If we do that, I think results will start to take care of themselves.”
Gilchrist’s appointment comes in the wake of a summer tour in which the 24-year-old was handed the Scotland captaincy by new coach Vern Cotter. “This is a massive honour for me to be vice-captain and a massive step in the right direction in terms of where I want to go in my career,” said Gilchrist, who was given the responsibility for calling lineouts at Edinburgh last season and is now ready to build on the knowledge he gained while on international duty.
“The summer was unexpected and it was a great experience and something which is going to help me in helping Mike do the best I can.”
Solomons is happy with the five men charged who feature in his leadership group and believes that the span of influence will continue to spread beyond that quintet, mentioning the names of Sean Kennedy, Stuart McInally and David Denton as potential leaders of the future. However, he is adamant that the two men he has selected in the key roles are the outstanding figures to lead the side in a campaign that starts on Friday with a trip to meet Munster at Thomond Park on Guinness Pro12 duty.
“Having that depth of experience in a place like New Zealand which I think is universally accepted as being the leading rugby country in the world and a country where rugby is important to the national psyche, are all factors which go into the mix and I think at this time at Edinburgh he will do an excellent job for us,” said the coach in his assessment of what he expects from Coman.
And of vice-captain Gilchrist, he stated: “For me, Grant is a young guy in terms of the Edinburgh experience, he had no exposure to leadership prior to my arrival.
“We got Grant involved in calling the lineouts and that was the first step. Grant was not part of the leadership last year and we put Grant on it. This season he is very much a part of that leadership group. I think this is part and parcel of Grant’s development in terms of leadership.”