PHIL Vickery was sorry to see Tony Windo take the rap for Gloucester’s retreating scrum but reckons Trevor Woodman can have an immediate impact at Kingsholm.
The Cherry and Whites’ pack has been severely under-powered this season and Windo, who spent two seasons as a prop at the club, has been made the fall guy as Nigel Davies’ reshuffles his staff.
Woodman replaced Windo as the Cherry and Whites’ scrum guru yesterday and has already linked up with the squad at Hartpury.
Vickery packed down alongside both props during his playing days and while he was disappointed to see Windo leave the role, he is confident his fellow World Cup winner can prove a major success.
He said: “Trevor ticks all the boxes. He was a phenomenal player you just have to look at what he did in the game and the experience he has gained as a player and coach.
“He will be a great addition to the coaching staff but I also feel sorry for Tony Windo. He’s a good guy and Gloucester through and through.
“The scrum has been under a lot of pressure this season and for that to fall at just Tony’s feet is very unfair.
“He does a fantastic job at Bromsgrove School and perhaps he could not dedicate enough time. He has to take responsibility at specialist scrum coach but the lack of recruitment and strategy last summer is also at fault.
“They all need to take responsibility both individually and collectively as players and the coaches. But it’s a positive move, a great coup for the club and certainly something they needed after the way this season has gone.
“He will certainly have the respect of the players and everyone at Gloucester and I’m sure he will have a positive impact. Hopefully it will be immediate and history tells us when someone comes in you get a reaction.
“I really hope he can fulfil his ambitions and dreams which I’m sure will be to make Gloucester successful.”
Vickery played alongside Woodman from childhood and they spent more than a decade together in the Cherry and White scrum before packing down during England’s triumphant World Cup campaign.
He still counts Woodman among his closest friends and believes he is the perfect personality to get the best from the Gloucester scrum, which will be boosted by Richard Hibbard and John Afoa next season.
He said: “We go back a long, long way to when we were 11 or 12-years-old - he’s someone I have spent an awful lot of time with.
“He’s a lifelong friend and someone I have so much respect for outside of rugby, for what he is as a person and is someone I truly trust.
“He’s one of the good guys and I just hope he is treated well by the club and given the tools needed to flourish and make a difference.
“He comes across as a smiley, happy character but at the same time he is very bright and intelligent and he has all that experience of playing at the highest level.
“Players will have to up their game because coming second and bad performances simply aren’t acceptable to Trevor.
“But at the same time he’s a realist and a well-grounded person and someone with a great affiliation to the club but he will want success and will be under no illusions of what it will take.”
Following his retirement in 2005, Woodman moved into coaching and has enjoyed stints at Sydney University, the Australia Rugby Union, London Wasps and more recently at Cheltenham College.
Vickery was coached by his old pal during the twilight of his career at Wasps and saw at first-hand the impact he had.
While Woodman’s four year tenure at the High Wycombe-based club did not coincide with their earlier period of success he had a key role in identifying and developing talent. And Vickery insists it will be equally important at Kingsholm.
“He went Down Under to learn his trade at Syndey University, put in a lot of time and had a big impact.
“I felt sorry for him during his time at Wasps, it was very much a transitional period in both the playing and coaching staff and was a nightmare for anyone involved but he came out with a lot of credit in what he achieved and how he conducted himself
“I had one or two seasons with Trevor as scrum coach but it was difficult for me because I was at the end of my career and with all the injuries I didn’t have the opportunity to show much.
“It’s certainly exciting and with the props and experience he will have available next season I’m looking forward to seeing how the pack will go.
“We need that immediate impact but it’s also important that the medium and long-term is addressed.
“Trevor is from a development background in his early days and London Wasps are big on using the academy and developing players so he will push that.
“But I’m confident that with the right support, recruitment and strategy he can have a successful and long career helping this fantastic rugby club.”