Ferguson explains his coaching strategy ahead of Saints' clash with Saracens

Matt Ferguson
Matt Ferguson

Matt Ferguson says Chris Boyd's desire to improve coaches was one of the main reasons he joined Saints last year.

And the assistant coach has been revelling in the opportunity to lead the team this week as part of Boyd's Premiership Rugby Cup coaching rotation system.

Defence coach Alan Dickens steered the team against Sale Sharks, Sam Vesty was in the hotseat against Wasps last weekend and now it's Ferguson's turn to take control.

Director of rugby Boyd, who arrived at Saints from the Hurricanes in the summer of 2018, brought Ferguson to the club from the England Women's team, where Ferguson was in charge of the forwards.

He had also spent the 2017/18 season working as a scrum consultant with London Irish, having already gained experience in the men’s game through previous stints at Cardiff Blues, Bristol and London Welsh.

And Ferguson is enjoying being part of an educational Saints coaching set-up.

"It's actually one of the main reasons why I came here last year: Boydy's openness around trying to develop and improve coaches," Ferguson said.

"It's a very easy thing to think that our job is to coach players but actually getting that feedback and development myself is also crucial."

So how has Ferguson gone about leading Saints this week?

"I haven't interfered too much with the rugby side of it - I've let the experts get on with their areas - but one of the things that does appeal to me is culture and mindset," he explained.

"I've been able to talk about the big picture of the whole team and the energy I want to see and the way I want to see it on the pitch this week against Sarries.

"It's been good and I'm looking forward to getting the week done.

"It's been a great chance to stand up in front of the whole group and talk about team cohesion and we'll see if that comes out on Sunday."

Some supporters have joked that Ferguson, who has a particularly emphasis on scrum work as part of his assistant coach role, would have the entire squad packing down all week.

And he smiled as he said: "Absolutely, big T (winger Taqele Naiyaravoro) is now converted to tighthead and we've done 24 hours of scrums.

"(Attack coach Sam) Vesty is not worried about the back play at all now!"

Saints will square up to Saracens in a repeat of last season's Premiership Rugby Cup final at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday.

So will the result mean more to Ferguson after being given more responsibility this week?

"We're all into every result, win, lose or draw - head coach, scrum coach or Academy player," he said. "We're a Saints team.

"It doesn't mean any more to me that any other parts I'm in charge of.

"I'm not approaching this game any different to last week or the play-offs last year."

Holders Saints have lost both of their Premiership Rugby Cup matches at the start of this season.

And Ferguson said: "Some of our frustration with the past two weeks has been our inability to put our game on the field.

"We haven't concentrated too much on the opposition - we've focused on what we want to do and how we want to do it.

"As a coaching and a playing group, we've been frustrated we've not been able to showcase what we do and how we do it for long enough periods.

"We're demanding a step up from the past two games and it doesn't matter who plays - what's important is that knowing your roles, having high energy and playing the Saints way are there.

"We need to get used to doing that for more than 10 to 12 minutes in each half as we have done in the past two games."