Peter Laverie always knew he was accepting a difficult job when he took over from Kenny Murray as Ayr coach at the start of the season.

Murray, after all, had steered the Millbrae collective to unprecedented success in both Premiership and Scottish Cup and guided them to heights which had previously eluded the men from Burns country.

Yet Laverie, the long-time No.2, has revelled in his new role to the extent that the reigning champions have returned to the summit of the RBS Premiership, having racked up seven straight wins after making an inauspicious start to their title defence. In the last fortnight, they have beaten Melrose and Edinburgh Accies away from home and, though they are just one point in front of Gala and two ahead of Melrose, there is a sense that the momentum is with them: a crucial factor in these dog-eat-dog battles.

The coach has an engagingly down-to-earth manner in dealing with questions. When I asked him whether he had felt any pressure stepping into Murray's shoes, he responded, with a chuckle: "I would liken it a bit to taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson, except for the fact Alex probably swears less than Kenny! Seriously, though, we had spent years together and it is a huge transition. We used to do the video analysis, discuss X, Y or Z, and, because we lived close to each other, rugby was never far from our minds.

"Despite things changing [Murray is now at Glasgow Warriors], it is not as if we never get the chance to talk and batter ideas around. I have Colin Ireland who is working with the backs, and Glen Tippet with the forwards, and we have built up a good relationship in a short period. But, clearly, Ayr enjoyed tremendous success under Kenny and our job is to ensure we keep that going."

In common with Scotland's other representatives in the British & Irish Cup, Ayr have found life tough against Jersey and Cornish Pirates, yet Laverie is not overly depressed about the standard on the grassroots circuit. His main priority is the Premiership, and although his team have already played 20 matches - counting pre-season - it is only early November. Thus, one of the problems for the Scots teams is managing their squads throughout a disjointed calendar.

"The Warriors have just had a week off, to recharge the batteries, but that is not an option for us; our lads practise hard and their attitude to training is first-class, but they have other things in their life," said Laverie. "Losing two of our opening three games wasn't in the script, but this is a hard competition and the top six or seven sides are all capable of causing damage to the others. So I have no doubt there will plenty of surprises in the months ahead.

"I have been pleased with the way we have reacted to early setbacks. We are putting ourselves in a decent position to challenge."

It looked as if Laverie might be emulating Davie Moyes in the club rugby milieu. Gradually, both men seem to be making positive things happen under their tenure.