RETURNING coach Neil Loader is expecting something of a hot reception when he leads his Salisbury side against former club Swindon this afternoon.
Loader left Greenbridge Road in the summer following a near four-year spell which saw a succession of impressive finishes in South West 1 East and, after a brief spell coaching the backs at Royal Wootton Bassett, now finds himself in charge of Swindon’s Wiltshire rivals.
The RFU coach knows his side are underdogs going into the clash and that he is likely to receive some friendly abuse from the sidelines throughout the game, but believes his inside knowledge of the Swindon team could help him keep the home fans quiet.
“Swindon are big favourites and it could be a tough day for us but we’re working hard and hopefully we can put something together,” he said.
“When I’m down working at Salisbury sometimes I call Swindon ‘us’ and get a bit confused by it all to be honest and people have a laugh about it. I’m a Swindon man but I work for Salisbury and I’m beginning to feel more at home down there.
“There are a few unknowns in there but I’m pretty sure I still know their strengths and weaknesses and my job is now to get Salisbury in the best shape possible to capitalise on their weaknesses.
“Are they still playing the same sort of game they used to when I was there? I’m led to believe they are not and are playing a more structured, controlled game. Tom Mannion is a big player for them and I know all about him so hopefully we can make sure he doesn’t cause too much damage.
“I speak to a few of the boys quite often and I have passed on some information about teams because they seem to follow our fixtures but my mind is all on Salisbury now.
“I’m sure I will get a little bit on Saturday but I’m big enough to cope with that I’m sure. We’re huge underdogs but we want to put on a performance to give something Swindon to play against and if we do that then you never know.”
Salisbury still sit bottom of the table despite some improvement since Loader’s arrival at the end of last year but the former Swindon coach believes his team are going in the right direction.
“It’s a lovely club and we’re struggling a little bit at the moment, although we have picked up a couple of wins and maybe could have had a couple more,” he said. “We’re getting a few return to the team which is good and it’s hard being where we are.
“We’ve played some brilliant stuff and the Salisbury players are really intelligent and have picked things up really quickly so I couldn’t really ask for any more from them.
“You have to concentrate on the battles you can win and then hope one or two of the other areas of the game go your way. If we can do that then we have a chance.”