New London Welsh forwards coach James Buckland admits the challenge of coaching in Aviva Premiership Rugby was one too good to turn down, having joined the Exiles until the end of the season.
Buckland, a former Leicester Tigers and England under-21 hooker, arrived from Championship side London Scottish to focus on the Welsh set-piece for the final four games of the season.
The Exiles are still searching for their first win of the campaign, but face a stern test to do so with four of the Aviva Premiership Rugby’s top six ahead on the schedule – with all of their opponents needing maximum points at this stage of the season.
But the 33-year-old insists it is all about small improvements for his side, and making the most of their Aviva Premiership Rugby experience.
“I’ve been here a couple of weeks now, and for me it was a great opportunity to test myself as a forwards coach at the Aviva Premiership Rugby level,” he said.
“I assisted with the preparation for the game against Bath and next up we’ve got some really tough fixtures to come from now until the end of the year.
“It’s a good experience for me personally and I’m just trying to give the players the right kind of direction for the last few games.
“We need to make sure we go out with a good few performances, and to do that I need to make sure the players are focusing on the right areas.
“We’ve got a group that work hard and are looking forward to going out and make it tough for the opposition to play as well as expressing themselves.
“The guys are all aware of the fact that they’ve had an Aviva Premiership Rugby season, and they just want to go out and improve themselves every week.
“They are looking at little improvements. We are running out of time so we need to make sure the boys put their best foot forward on Sunday.”
With two-and-a-half years experience at London Scottish, Buckland is focused on improving the Exiles’ mentality at the set-piece, and wants to see his players grab the bull by the horns against Wasps this weekend.
And he is adamant Welsh can still cause the big-guns a shock if they go out and play without fear.
He added: “We’re trying to instil some clarity and a bit of direction defensively, and make the boys a little bit more accountable for what they’re doing.
“I’ve taken exactly the same approach to the set-piece as well – we really want all the boys to go out and try and take things on.
“There should be no mentality of damage limitation. If you’re trying primarily to stop the opposition rather than take things on you’re always going to be on the back foot.
“The ground is firming up so we can play with the ball a bit more, and all the pressure is on our opposition.
“So we just want to go out and try and do our thing, and going out to express ourselves is what we are telling the boys to focus on.”
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