Davids wants drastic changes
Southern Kings face big challenges ahead of next PRO14 season, says coach
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