Davids wants dras­tic changes

South­ern Kings face big chal­lenges ahead of next PRO14 sea­son, says coach

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - SPORT - GE­ORGE BY­RON

NOT one to shy away from a chal­lenge or mince his words, broad-shoul­dered South­ern Kings head coach Deon Davids wants dras­tic changes be­fore the next PRO14 sea­son kicks off. Davids spelt out the sit­u­a­tion fac­ing his team when he said the Kings sim­ply could not af­ford an­other sea­son like the one that they were cur­rently en­dur­ing.

After his team lost 16 con­sec­u­tive matches, there was a rare sweet mo­ment for Davids to savour when the Kings thumped fel­low strug­glers the Drag­ons 45-13 last week.

Davids, how­ever, is al­ready look­ing to­wards next sea­son and he is con­cerned about how his team will fare in their sec­ond PRO14 cam­paign.

For some­body who wears his heart on his sleeve, Davids’s emo­tions are of­ten plain for all to see in the coach­ing box dur­ing matches.

Davids has had his fair share of tri­als and tribu­la­tions in what has been a bap­tism of fire to life in the Euro­pean-based PRO14.

“One of the big­gest chal­lenges go­ing for­ward will be to im­prove the quan­tity and qual­ity of our group,” Davids said.

“All of this needs fi­nan­cial re­sources and staff. We have a lot of things to ad­dress and they need to be ad­dressed as soon as pos­si­ble.

“I don’t think we can af­ford an­other sea­son like this. There are a lot of plans be­hind the scenes and I hope to get some sig­nif­i­cant an­swers shortly .

“At this point in time, I am a bit jumpy be­cause cer­tain stuff hap­pens too slowly for me. You only have a cer­tain pe­riod to con­tract.

“We have iden­ti­fied and done a full anal­y­sis of our squad to find where our strengths and weak­nesses are and the things that we need to work on.

“The next step, un­for­tu­nately, is out of my hands. I am hop­ing that some­thing hap­pens as soon as pos­si­ble.

“It is a SA Rugby project, so we need to get some move­ment in terms of where we are go­ing and how quickly we can do that. I know there are talks around that.”

Davids sought out the ad­vice of Wales coach War­ren Gat­land on a re­cent tour to Europe.

“When we stayed in Wales we en­gaged with the Welsh squad. I had the chance to spend some time with Gat­land, and he in­vited us to watch some of their train­ing ses­sions.

“We did the same in Scot­land and saw some of their fa­cil­i­ties and how they do stuff. We have learned a lot in terms of what is needed and how we can im­prove and how we can do things bet­ter.

“To move on that we need re­sources and back­ing and dy­namic ac­tion in terms of get­ting things go­ing.”

Davids said his team had been on a jour­ney of dis­cov­ery in their open­ing 17 matches in the Euro­pean tour­na­ment.

“PRO14 is very close to test rugby. Maybe the sin­gle big­gest dif­fer­ence be­tween PRO14 and Su­per Rugby is that Su­per Rugby has a high pace and is very skil­ful.

“When you play PRO14, teams are also skil­ful and have a high pace.

“But you play in dif­fer­ent con­di­tions and the teams are very tac­ti­cal and it is more test-like in its na­ture.

“You are un­der pres­sure with a good kick­ing-game de­fence and you have to play a good ter­ri­tory game.

“You have got to have an ap­proach where you can play both styles.

“Play­ers learn in these con­di­tions and they have to im­prove their kick­ing and aerial skills and be more ef­fec­tive at the break­down.

“This is be­cause the game is much slower be­cause of the con­di­tions. I think these skills can ben­e­fit South African rugby go­ing for­ward.

“The Spring­boks play end-of-year tours against Euro­pean teams and it hap­pens where we need skills in those ar­eas.

“If we have more play­ers play­ing un­der those con­di­tions and de­velop those skills, that will ben­e­fit the Boks go­ing for­ward.”

Davids feels his first win of the PRO14 sea­son came at the right time.

“I think this win will mean a lot and now we have some­thing to look for­ward to with four games at home.

“I’m just happy that this win came at the right time for us and we can build on it for the next four weeks.”

Spring­bok coach Rassie Eras­mus met Davids last week for talks on how to bol­ster the strug­gling Port El­iz­a­beth side.

The Kings are a SA Rugby Union project and they hold all the aces when it comes to giv­ing the team more clout on and off the field.

Eras­mus is fa­mil­iar with con­di­tions in Europe, and led Mun­ster to the fi­nal of the old PRO12 last year.

Though Davids did not re­veal the ex­act na­ture of his talks with Eras­mus, it may have hinged on es­tab­lish­ing a player ros­ter within SA Rugby.

Fran­chises with a sur­plus of play­ers in a cer­tain po­si­tion may be per­suaded to loan them to the Kings.

Those play­ers would ben­e­fit by get­ting valu­able game time in over­seas con­di­tions.

Dy­namic ac­tion, not words, is what Davids wants now.


LOOK­ING FOR AN­SWERS: South­ern Kings head coach Deon Davids says dy­namic ac­tion is needed to boost his team

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