'Utterly impossible' to keep the whole squad happy, says Saints coach Dowson

Phil Dowson admits it is 'utterly impossible' to keep every squad member happy at Saints.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 12:00 pm
Phil Dowson
Phil Dowson

There have been no Wanderers games since January 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

And that has left plenty of first-team players desperately seeking game time at Saints.

Though the squad has recently been stretched by injuries and international call-ups, some have still not made the cut.

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And forwards coach Dowson said: "It's utterly impossible to keep everyone happy.

"All the players are, by nature, competitive - and to get to this level they have to be.

"Even the lads on the bench are miserable because they feel they should be playing from the start.

"It's tough.

"Some guys are on a different trajectory, whether that's playing on loan at Bedford to get some game time, whether that's coming back from injury or trying to get some form back.

"There are lots of different things happening and lots of different people so from a coaching point of view it's about giving them a clear picture of what we expect to see and telling them what they trajectory is for them to get back into the side.

"You're not going to keep everyone happy, but as long as they're communicated with and they feel like they'll get an opportunity to improve and show what they're capable of, the players understand it is a competitive league and it is a competitive environment."

James Grayson is one of the players who has not been involved of late, with George Furbank starting at fly-half in the absence of Wales star Dan Biggar.

But Dowson said: "Jimmy's available and he's looking forward to getting involved when the opportunity comes along.

"We think Furbs has been doing well at 10 and it's nice to have Harry Mallinder back at 15.

"Although we've been stretched with injuries and international call-ups, it's great to have competition in those areas to drive the quality.

"We've got some positions where it's white-hot in that competition and we want that across the board to push players to get better.

"Jimmy is training hard, desperate for an opportunity and when he gets it I'm sure he'll be outstanding."

Saints have been beaten in their past two matches, against Bath and Harlequins.

So does that make it more difficult to leave players out?

"Even when we win games, players are still desperate to get in the team," Dowson said.

"Obviously when we lose it does mean you look to make changes because what you're doing might not be quite right, but the players understand the game enough to know after a couple of results haven't gone our way we're not going to change everything.

"It's about finding the best thing to change and how we can learn and not make the mistakes again."