Stand-in head coach Tommy McGee has asked Yorkshire Carnegie fans for their patience and understanding as he attempts to transform their fortunes.
Carnegie have endured a torrid week, starting with a wretched draw with bottom club Plymouth Albion and culminating in the removal of Gary Mercer from the top job.
The club say he has not been sacked, yet have placed forwards coach McGee in charge for the next three games in the British & Irish Cup, starting tonight in Wales against Aberavon. McGee was a candidate for the main job in the summer and took pre-season training until Mercer was appointed on the campaign’s eve.
Having played for Leeds and worked in the coaching set-up for nearly two years, McGee will provide a steadying hand.
While he is unwilling to look too far into the future by saying he wants the job full-time, McGee does accept that bridges need to be mended on and off the field.
“It’s one step at a time and, hopefully, we’ll get back to where we know we can be,” said the 35-year-old former Scotland A prop. “The players want to do well, it’s important people understand that. They want to do better than we have been doing.
“I fully appreciate how people are feeling about us. That’s the biggest thing. We want to demonstrate that we are better than we are. No matter how tough a situation is, if you stick together and persevere, things will change.
“Over the next three weeks we have to take it one step at a time and one game at a time. I’ve been at this club for 10 years. I’ve got a lot of passion for the club and lot of understanding. I also appreciate as a coach it’s about being smart with what you’ve got. I believe we have good players and we’re not far away. What I really ask is the fans stick with us.
“I understand how they feel. Their support makes a big difference and, hopefully, we’ll see them come back to follow us.
“We’ve not been far away and Gary Mercer deserves credit for that. My priority is a responsibility to make a difference and I will do everything I can to make that.”
McGee took training amid the uncertainty over Mercer’s position. In a short space of time, he has started pointing Carnegie players back in the direction of their attacking instincts.
“We have come from playing a really exciting, attacking brand of rugby to what we have produced this year,” said McGee in reference to Mercer’s instruction to be more defensive-minded.
“We do need to keep up the defensive improvements we have made. Gary Mercer has instilled a lot of good defensive habits and practices we need to maintain.
“But we have to find the balance between the two, and that’s been my message over the last few days. We are looking to evolve our attacking game, but it’s not easy and it’s not going to happen overnight, but we need to put something in place that will get us moving in the right direction.”
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