Dave Rennie is already making his mark as Glasgow Warriors head coach, says former Scotland captain Mike Blair.
The 53-year-old has spent only three days in his new post after leaving the Chiefs in his native New Zealand.
“Dave said he was just going to watch for a couple of days, but you can already see the influence he’s got on the coaches and players,” skills coach Blair said.
“There’s a bit of an edge about training – an increased intensity.”
In his six years at the Chiefs, Rennie won back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013 and led the franchise to the tournament’s knockout stages in each of the four seasons since.
Blair, who earned 85 caps, finished his playing career with Glasgow in 2016 and was appointed skills coach by Rennie’s predecessor, the current Scotland boss, Gregor Townsend.
“When Gregor told me he’d be taking the Scotland job, I was quite disappointed, thinking selfishly about the Glasgow side,” Blair added.
“He said, don’t worry, you certainly won’t be disappointed by who is going to come in instead.
“I’m looking forward to working with Dave and I know the other coaches are as well.
“The guys had spoken to Dave on Skype a couple of times – some really awkward Skype conversations with it [the connection] dropping in and out – but there was a good, nervous apprehension I think.
“The guys are putting their best feet forward and saying they want to be picked for these games to come.”
‘A stronger sense of belonging’
After being named Townsend’s successor a year ago, Rennie was eager to retain off-contract Scotland internationals such as Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour and Alex Dunbar, while recruiting 11 new players.
He has been joined too by Jason O’Halloran, his lieutenant for four years at Manawatau, and Jonathan Humphreys, both of whom have swapped assistant coach roles with the national team for Glasgow.
Kenny Murray, like Blair, retains his assistant’s position to complete the coaching staff and the former Ayr boss says, amid the upheaval, the club must retain its strong ties with the community.
“I’m probably the guy that has to speak the slowest so Dave can understand me,” Murray said.
“We’ve got a lot of Glasgow-based players in the squad. I’ve always said that’s really important for a team, that they’ve got guys who have come up through local clubs and the local community.
“It gives a much stronger sense of belonging, not only for those guys but also for the fans.
“A lot of the fans that come and watch us are from schools and clubs that those players have been at, so that’s really important for the club in terms of the culture.
“It’s great to get the different experiences that guys like Humphs, Jase and Dave are going to bring in and match that with what Mike and I have experienced in the last few years.”