Gustard installs model bear at Quins HQ


By Richard Cooke

Last Updated: 13/08/18 10:40pm

Paul Gustard has found a novel way to pep up aggression in his players

Paul Gustard has found a novel way to pep up aggression in his players

Harlequins have installed a 6ft 3in model bear in their headquarters in a bid to create a new era of aggressive defence, Demetri Catrakilis has revealed. 

Fly-half Catrakilis has lifted the lid on new head of rugby Paul Gustard’s latest maverick coaching method.

Gustard’s first big left-field coaching brainchild was Saracens’ ‘Wolfpack’ defensive system, which at one point saw him take a real wolf to training.

The 42-year-old has been coy about some of his more obscure plans, but South African playmaker Catrakilis has shone some light on another of Gustard’s novel techniques.

Asked if Gustard had employed any weird and wonderful methods yet, Catrakilis replied: “There is a bear! There is a massive bear in our team room.

Demetri Catrakilis has been impressed by Gustard Demetri Catrakilis has been impressed by Gustard

Demetri Catrakilis has been impressed by Gustard

“It looks real – but it hasn’t moved yet! That is going be the basis of how we defend – to be like bears.

“It is nice to use as an analogy, to think of yourself as a superior animal, so that is what he has chosen. Bears are so dominant – we want to be dominant ourselves, we want to make sure we are going forwards and they are going backwards.”

Asked how Gustard unveiled Quins’ newest recruit, Catrakilis said: “There was a curtain over something in the corner.

“I was wondering, ‘what the hell is this?’ I was waiting for someone to come out of the back. I was thinking, ‘I don’t know if it is real, it might be! How big is it?’

“It is massive – about 6ft 3in. I haven’t gone too close to it! It looks like a real bear. It’s a brown bear.”

Harlequins leaked an average 22 points per game en route to a 10th-placed finish in last term’s Premiership, leading to John Kingston leaving the club.

“He has brought a lot of good defensive systems to our game, which is what we needed; so the holes we did have in our game, he is filling,” said Catrakilis, of Gustard.

“I don’t think our culture was bad at all (last year). He might add a little to it, but what he does bring is his knowledge of the game.”

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