‘Everyone is on the same page’ - Magnus Bradbury says Edinburgh will ‘play a bit more’ under Mike Blair
Not surprisingly, the players have been unanimous in giving their public backing to the coach who took over from Richard Cockerill in July.
The regular refrain is that the squad wants to retain the aggression and defensive solidity instilled by Cockerill while offering more of a creative threat with ball in hand.
Magnus Bradbury, the experienced Edinburgh forward, believes it’s an achievable goal which can be realised through squad unanimity.
“It feels like everyone is on the same page, driving towards the same thing,” said the 14-times capped back-row as he described the early days of the Blair reign. “The obvious change is coaching style, he just wants us to play a bit more, rather than having that direct edge and being a good abrasive team all the time.
“We know when to play because it is not about having a go all the time but having that hard edge when that is what is required.”
Bradbury has welcomed the new coach’s willingness to seek the players’ input, something that was not always apparent under the previous regime.
“It is a good responsibility to have,” said Bradbury. “When the coaches need to get a point across then they are more than happy to have their say, but we all recognise that the players have their own responsibilities in terms of shaping the way we want to play and to holding ourselves to the highest standards.
“It seems to be a good balance, at the moment, between the coaches telling us what they want, and us putting our own twist on things as well, so it’s hugely exciting and we’ll see how it progresses.”
Bradbury had spells playing at lock last season to cover for injuries but is more comfortable in the back row and doesn’t expect his role to be too different under Blair.
“My remit doesn’t really change – it is about being that abrasive ball-carrier and hard-hitter in defence,” he said. “With the way he is trying to coach it is also about having those soft skills and being able to link up in the outside channel more than we perhaps did before.
“For me, that just means getting my hands on the ball a bit more and expressing myself a bit more before contact, so it is really exciting for me and for lots of the other guys.”
Saturday’s game against Newcastle is a significant moment for the club as they play in their purpose-built stadium for the first time. Bradbury, for one, can’t wait.
“It’s felt like a long time coming,” he said. “We’ve watched the stadium being built day-in and day-out, so it is great to have finally got there. New stands, new coach, new team, fans are back, what’s not to be excited about?
‘Pre-season games are always about blowing away the cobwebs, but there is also an edge because everyone is trying to put down that marker to be the starting guy in the first game of the league season.”