- Doncaster Knights Head Coach Brett Davey on his side's mixed start to the season
- Confident Knights can push to be top side in Yorkshire – Davey
Photo: RFU Archive
With a rugby career spanning 15 years, including time at fellow RFU Championship clubs Bristol Rugby and Cornish Pirates, Doncaster Knights Head Coach Brett Davey talks exclusively to the RFU Championship about his club's aspirations for the top and which sides could make the journey difficult.
Q. Doncaster’s results so far this season are very mixed, with three wins, four losses and one. What do you put that down to?
A. We purposefully left ourselves short at the start of the season as this is a tough campaign and with a squad of 29 players we had to adjust our training methods to make training less contact orientated.
I don’t feel that we have been inconsistent as this was part of the plan; the first two league games were about the new players finding out what this league was all about. This season was always going to be hard for us competing with the bigger sides and the bigger squads, but I am pleased where we are right now.
Q. How have your new signings fitted into the club set-up since joining in the summer and have you felt the loss of former players, such as Matt Williams?
A. The new signings have fitted in really well and they have gelled together with the players who stayed from last year. There were a few players who we wanted to stay, but unfortunately they took the decision to leave as we were not able to compete with other sides in the league financially.
While the economic climate remains as it does we have to cut our cloth accordingly and sacrifices had to be made. The club remains the most important thing here and players will always come and go; but we are the custodians of the club at the moment and the players who signed here have my full confidence.
As a coach you hope to improve all players and while this is a results based industry I feel that developing players is of huge importance. It is very easy to think 'what might have been' with players who left, but there were some who didn’t have the club at heart and this showed in some big games last season.
Q. Do you believe that Doncaster can challenge for the title this season?
A. One thing about this league is that any side can beat anyone on any given day; that’s what makes this such an exciting league to be part of. We have a plan in place and apart from one big blip so far that plan is very much still intact.
We came a lot closer than people gave us credit for last season and I would like to think that we have learned some really good lessons in balancing our campaign. Injuries are obviously important in any campaign, but I maintain that if we get to the play-offs with a squad fully fit then we are equally as capable of winning it as any side.
Q. Who do you see as your main threat(s) in this competition?
A. The main threats so far this season would be the sides with the biggest budgets and those that have links with Premiership clubs. Bristol, Pirates, London Welsh, Bedford and Nottingham have this in place and when it comes to the business end of the season I am sure these clubs will push on. Leeds will be a very dangerous animal when it comes to the end of season as they are a lot better than the start that they have had.
Q. Given the fewer number of professional clubs in North England compared to the South, do you think Doncaster can become the 'power house' of the North?
A. It is fair to say that northern English rugby has struggled of late, but this has to be because of the economic climate. Financially everyone is feeling the pinch and it will be interesting as to whether some of the southern clubs are paying out more on players than we are.
We are being sensible in these tough times and I am sure that will put us in good stead further down the line. We are not ready to be the 'power house' of northern rugby yet, as we do not have the infrastructure in place to achieve this; but again there is no reason why we shouldn’t push ourselves to be the top side in Yorkshire.
Q. How have you seen the RFU Championship develop during your involvement in the league?
A. The RFU Championship is starting to realise its potential within the rugby world. This season has already exposed quite a few players to live matches on sky sports TV and the fact they are searching for title sponsorship is testament to the commitment the league has of progressing.
Further exposure is a brilliant opportunity for the younger players to put themselves in the shop window and I would strongly recommend any young player who is not having game time in the Aviva Premiership to make the sacrifice and get playing regular rugby. You learn far more by playing than sitting on the bench every week.
The average age of squads has definitely come down in the past few seasons and this can only be a good thing. Giving young players the opportunity to play will keep everyone on their toes.