West of Scotland kick off against Jed Forest

west coaches, marc pope and keith robertson'em'15/8/11
west coaches, marc pope and keith robertson'em'15/8/11

AS West of Scotland Rugby Club get set to face Jed Forest for their first league game of the new season at Burnbrae, head coach Keith Robertson said it is crucial to clinch victory in their first couple of games to get into a ‘winning frame of mind’.

Robertson, who took the helm last season following the departure of John Beattie, saw the team knocked down a league.

He is determined the same thing will not happen this year.

Speaking to Herald Sport before the start of West’s Premier Division 2 campaign, Robertson (40) said: “We have had a good pre-season build-up and everything is in place.

“We now have a pool of some 40-plus players to choose from which should help us later in the season when injuries take their toll.”

One of the main problems facing the coach last season was not having enough players in reserve for the first 15 team.

Robertson admitted: “We struggled last season, but the pool of players we now have will mean we can draw on when the inevitable injuries happen.”

Asked what his aims were for the new season ahead, Robertson said: “My aim is to be in the top four after the first 11 games because this will ensure we will go into the National 1 league next season when the leagues are re-organised.”

But to do this West need to start winning games. He said: “We need to get into the winning habit. This will breed confidence and in turn make winning easier.

“There is no magic formula, but the winning mentality is so important.

“In our first warm up friendly game against Dalziel we beat them 17-15 which was a nice confidence booster, however when we played Stirling County the following week we lost 46-8, but I put this down to some of our players calling off at the last minute. In our first league game we will have a full squad ready.”

Robertson has worked on strengthening the team this season by bringing in some young blood from the under 18s section.

He added: “This season I have recruited a lot of new players and have a crop of under 18s stepping up.”

The coach has cast his net wide for new players and has brought in New Zealand hooker Simon Key.

He said: “We are hoping he can stay for more than one season, and believe he’ll fit into the set up here.”

Robertson said he had also noticed a big difference in the players’ mentality this year and added: “They seem a lot more focused and have been working really hard in the training seasons. All we need to do now is transfer this enthusiasm into wins on the pitch.”