A few well-chosen words from Justin Burnell were all that was needed to help Gordon Ross rediscover his kicking boots in front of goal.
The London Welsh fly half and assistant coach, 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 a 100 per cent record, and all thanks to a mid-week challenge from Burnell.
“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 the London Welsh head coach.
“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 Matt Davies [assistant coach] their emphasis on detail is fantastic and 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 divulged: “I took a fair bit of stick after last week at the Allianz, so it was nice to prove my Welsh 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 in 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. Also our bench made a massive difference when they came on,” said Burnell.
“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 and 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 it [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. 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 and I think it’s going to be a great afternoon of rugby,” he said.