Gareth Baber arrives at Edinburgh as a “skills and assistant attack coach” as he makes the shift to 15-a-side rugby after five years at the helm of the very successful Fijian sevens side.
Baber’s stint with the Fijians was formidable, typified by their victorious campaign at the Olympics in Tokyo last year.
The Welshman looks to use his skillset to add value to a developing Edinburgh side led by their head coach, Mike Blair.
Balanced team culture
“I think a lot of good work has been done prior to my getting here,” Baber told the Edinburgh Evening News. “The team are pretty settled in the way they want to play the game and they’ve shown great humility in the way they want to improve all the time.
“When you create a culture like that it starts to reflect generally in the way that you play. You don’t always get it right, but what you’re looking for is an objective response in being able to improve as a group of players and as a staff. We challenge each other all the time to move that on, and that has probably been reflected on the field.”
Edinburgh are currently sitting pretty in second position on the United Rugby Championship table and with plenty of rugby to be played before the play-offs, Baber was reluctant to make a prediction.
“It’s a little bit early for me to say, I’m starting to get to know the players and the system that we operate,” he said. “I haven’t seen us go against the likes of Leinster and Munster yet.
“Mike and the coaching staff have done a great job to date. The players are certainly encouraged by the way we’re wanting to play the game and the way we operate off field as well.”
The 49-year-old will have to navigate a switch from head coach to assistant coach but looks forward to the change and is convinced he will make a positive impact to Blair’s setup.
“I came to Edinburgh because I wanted to be challenged differently in my coaching,” he explained. “I’d done something there in Fiji for five years and I also recognised there were certain strengths that I had in my coaching but there were certain things I wanted to develop and the conversations with Mike were around what I could add value to here.
“I don’t mean being different for the sake of being different, I mean thinking differently. I’ve got to be able to think differently.
“Going from head coach to assistant coach, that’s an important development for me. I also believe that a big part of leadership is understanding where you fit. I like being involved in teams.
“I know it’s not going to happen overnight and I’m looking forward to the challenge of working with Mike and the other coaches and the playing staff and the staff generally on building something as special as we possibly can.”
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