Gloucester Rugby: Nigel Davies wants to harness the power of 'big kid' Sione Kalamafoni
SCHOOL bully Sione Kalamafoni will wreak more and more havoc as Gloucester work out exactly how to exploit his brutal ball-carrying talents, believes Nigel Davies.
Explosive back-row forward Kalamafoni swats opponents aside with terrifying ease when he hits his powerful line-breaking best.
And Gloucester boss Davies reckons the Tongan wrecking-ball flanker resembles the playground enforcer who dominated school sports thanks to an early growth spurt.
Now rugby director Davies wants Gloucester to get the best out of 24-year-old Kalamafoni – by creating more avenues for him to plough through at top speed.
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Kalamafoni is Gloucester's chief line-breaking forward this term, and his summer arrival from Nottingham has reinvigorated the likes of Fijian flanker Akapusi Qera on the ball-carrying front.
One of Gloucester's first attacking ploys under Davies was to bash through defences by sending their brute-force back-rowers through centre-field.
The former Wales centre has been carefully expanding Gloucester's game ever since those early forward-pack inroads.
But Davies said Gloucester are still striving to find new ways to unleash the top strike-running weapons in their pack.
Davies explained: "He's like a big kid in a mini rugby game when he gets going at times.
"He causes carnage all over the place once he hits his stride, and he's been a fantastic presence all season.
"Sione has had to play a lot of rugby, he's had a pretty big workload, but he's embraced every aspect of what we're trying to achieve and he's been fabulous.
"Bath handled him and our other powerful back-row runners quite craftily on Friday: where possible they were double-tackling them and trying to stop them at source.
"We'll look at ways to combat that, because it's only natural that opponents will work out new ways to combat strengths of ours as they emerge.
"It's up to us to find ways to get the best out of guys like Sione, to understand how to turn them into the most potent weapon possible.
"We'll make them more and more dangerous to the opposition.
"As teams start trying to shut down those avenues for our big runners, then hopefully we can make adjustments and tweaks to negotiate that as well."
Davies believes Gloucester have progressed consistently in all areas since his arrival from Llanelli Scarlets in the summer.
But now he admits the time for measured steps forward is about to be eclipsed by the need for a string of Premiership victories.
The Cherry and Whites have this week off, before reconvening to prepare for their Kingsholm clash with London Welsh on Saturday, March 23 (kick-off 3pm).
Gloucester could need four wins from their five remaining league contests to edge into the play-offs – and Davies hopes a week's clean break will help clear and then refocus Kingsholm minds.
Davies continued: "We've been improving steadily across the season, but now we're going to be at the stage where we will need to kick on.
"The next stage of improvement revolves around controlling games for longer periods.
"We have snippets of dominance that we don't sustain, and there are a number of reasons for that.
"But we have a little bit of time now to work on things like that.
"Sometimes a rest and a break allows players and coaches to reflect in a way that you can't when the games come thick and fast.
"The players have a complete break this week with a chance to refresh minds as well as bodies.
"And sometimes after a break like that, players return, just naturally, with a clearer mind of what they need to do to fix the odd issue."