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Aberdeen Grammar: No time to despair at Premiership position, says head coach Ali O’Connor

Aberdeen Grammar head coach Ali O'Connor
Aberdeen Grammar head coach Ali O'Connor

Aberdeen Grammar head coach Ali O’Connor says no-one is despairing about the situation the club finds itself in at the foot of the Premiership.

Grammar have been beset by injury problems and two Covid-enforced shutdowns this season and are still looking for their first win.

The absentee-list has run into the 20s and even though it has appeared to be easing at times, it remains a challenge for O’Connor to get his strongest side on the park.

They face Edinburgh Accies on Saturday in the first of a double-header against the capital club, in the rearranged game from the opening day. Accies will head to Rubislaw next week.

Drawing on past experience has been helpful for O’Connor and the Grammar squad, as they try to navigate their way out of trouble.

“I don’t know that it’s any different for a coach than it is for a player,” he said. “We all care deeply about the club but we’ve not had the results to show for it.

Aberdeen Grammar head coach Ali O'Connor.
Ali O’Connor has had numerous selection issues this season

“I remember the first year I came in as head coach, we looked down out with four games to go but won four on the bounce.

“I reminded players of that after the game on Saturday. As long as there’s a chance then we’re still in it.

“They’re a pretty positive group – no-one is in despair. We’re lucky we do benefit from past experience and it’s a case of redoubling our efforts and following the gameplan.

“We’re disappointed with how results have gone and feel like we’ve had a tough rub of the green, with some decisions which have gone against us, injuries and availability.

“We said we needed a good turnout at training and we got that. We’ve tried to put a few things right that went wrong on Saturday.”

The 36-10 loss to Selkirk last weekend was their seventh in a row and brought further injury concerns, with Scott Renfrew, Ben Inglis and Sam Ryan all likely to miss out on Saturday.

Aberdeen Grammar forward Ben Inglis
Aberdeen Grammar forward Ben Inglis

Mark New and Bryn Perrott, however, are back in training while co-captain Nat Coe is also not far away from making a return.

“We have been able to weather it but we’ve been asking guys to play out of position,” added O’Connor. “If we can get our frontline squad back then competition for places cannot be underestimated. It raises standards and hopefully we can benefit from that.

“I think Accies strengthened during Covid and they have had some good results. They pushed Hawick and competed well down there.

“They’re a tough team at home and it’s like a two-legged affair. It’s nice that the first game is away – we can then learn a bit and have home-advantage in the second game.”

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