Nottingham Rugby out to teach Llandovery harsh lesson in British & Irish Cup, says Neil Fowkes
NEIL Fowkes is used to giving lessons – and he hopes Nottingham Rugby will teach Llandovery a harsh one in their British & Irish Cup showdown.
The part-time forwards coach will be in charge of the Green and Whites at Meadow Lane tomorrow (2.15pm).
And he has spent his week off from Central College because of half-term leading the club's preparations for the must-win tie.
Nottingham trail Llandovery by five points in second place in Pool 8 of the cup so they have to claim a bonus-point victory against the Welsh side on home soil in their final game to qualify for the quarter-finals.
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The stakes could not be higher – but head coach Martin Haag has resisted any temptation to take control and has kept faith with Fowkes, having given him and backs coach Ben Johnston the reins throughout the B&I Cup this season.
Fowkes is relishing the challenge and is confident he can inspire the Greens into the last-eight.
"It's always a privilege when Martin lets you have a go and it's a big responsibility as well," he said.
"The build-up to this game has fallen perfectly for me because it's half-term so I've been in with the lads all week.
"I'm really grateful to Martin because it's a big game, the boys know it's a big one and it's a bit of a vote of confidence in me, which is nice.
"It's not an everyday opportunity a coach would get at this level."
Haag has still picked the team and Nottingham will be resting key men like captain Brent Wilson and David Jackson, but Fowkes still believes they will be too strong for Llandovery and will do the business.
They have not played since suffering a shock 25-13 defeat at London Scottish in the Championship back on February 9 because their league clash at Jersey was controversially called off last Saturday.
And Fowkes says all the Greens' players are raring to get back into action.
"We need to make sure we concentrate and do the simple things well and focus on getting the performance right and we'll go from there," he said.
"After the disappointment of losing at London Scottish and then not playing at Jersey everyone is really up for playing the game.
"They want to get out there and play and if we do the basics well then we have got every chance."
Nottingham must score four or more tries, concede less than four tries and win by ten or more points to get the five points they need to reach the knockout stages of the cup.
"We've always said we want to progress through the group stages of the cup," said Fowkes. "We made it a little difficult for ourselves with a couple of defeats early on so it's important we have a good performance tomorrow, not just for the cup, but also to put London Scottish to bed and get back to where we need to be."