Stand-in head coach Tommy McGee has asked Yorkshire Carnegie fans for their patience and understanding as he attempts to slowly 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 and 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 eve of the campaign.
Having played for Leeds and worked in the coaching set-up for nearly two years, McGee will provide a steadying hand.
And while he is not willing 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 moving forward. We want to demonstrate that we are better than we are. No matter how tough a situation is, if you stick together, stick with it and persevere, things will change for you.
“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 that as a coach it’s about being smart with what you’ve got.
“I believe we have got good players and we’re not far away.
“What I really ask is that the supporters 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 difference.”
McGee took training this week amid the uncertainty over Mercer’s position. And in just a short space of time he has already 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.
“And we do need to keep up the defensive improvements we have made. Gary Mercer has instilled a lot of good defensive habits and practices that we need to maintain.
“But we have got 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.We also need to try and instill a hard-edged self-belief that no matter what the hurdles, like the ones of late, we can overcome them.”
Harry Leonard and David Doherty both miss out through injury against Aberavon tonight while scrum-halves Chris Pilgrim and Matt Dudman rotate in the number nine shirt.