Gloucester Rugby: Naz - Young guns will do the business
NIGEL Davies' new-look Gloucester will have the power to blow opponents away – but must be given time to build consistency, believes Luke Narraway.
Departing Gloucester captain Narraway is gearing up for his big move to French Top 14 giants Perpignan.
But while the 28-year-old will taste his first senior rugby away from Kingsholm, he remains buoyant about the Cherry and Whites' chances of future success.
John Brain's death, Bryan Redpath's departure and now Ken Nottage's decision to leave too have ensured a period of huge change at Kingsholm.
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New rugby director Davies started work at Kingsholm on Monday, with his most pressing task to compile his backroom staff.
Forwards coach Carl Hogg will continue the role he held under Redpath, but Gloucester co-owner Ryan Walkinshaw has confirmed that Davies can bring coaches in around the former Scotland back-rower.
Long-standing stars like Narraway, Rory Lawson, Alasdair Strokosch – and most likely Mike Tindall too – are all moving on from Kingsholm, so the new squad will have a vastly-different complexion.
Narraway admits he would love to see Gloucester realise their rich potential and strike back to the upper reaches of the Premiership.
And the Worcester-born loose forward sees enough potency for that to happen – but he has urged supporters not to expect too much too soon if Gloucester produce a couple of startling early victories.
He explained: "There's an exceptional array of young talent in the squad, and it's a very strong squad overall.
"And I think there's definitely the potency to launch an assault on the Premiership.
"A lot of experienced players have left though, and it's time for the youngsters to step up and take the lead.
"From their characters, I know that they are capable of doing exactly that, and I'm sure they will be able to fill the boots of those who have left.
"There will definitely be some games where the team will click, everything will come together, and they will blow some opponents away.
"And that will leave people thinking, 'Wow, this team is the business', but I just hope that when that happens people don't expect them to be world-beaters overnight.
"If they do not produce consistency straightaway, that will not be surprising, because they will need time to bed in and settle together.
"So I just hope that people give them time to get their bearings and grow as a group.
"I think they can have a real impact in the league, but the main priority is to secure Heineken Cup qualification.
"They can do that and achieve a fair bit more I believe, and it will be exciting to see how they go."
Anticipating Gloucester feeding off the recent rocky road to build strength after adversity, Narraway continued: "There has been a great deal of uncertainty and that's obviously not the best way to start a pre-season, but most of that has been unavoidable.
"But Nigel Davies is a great acquisition as coach and he has worked wonders at the Scarlets.
"He has produced teams that go out to win games rather than simply trying not to lose, and that fits very well with the Gloucester spirit.
"It should be a great marriage of styles, and Gloucester must be congratulated for recruiting him.
"There's a huge amount of young talent at Gloucester, and he should be able to help them realise their potential.
"He will be able to stamp his mark on things during pre-season too.
"All that uncertainty and the frustrating end to the season, those are things that the squad can use to their advantage moving forward though, and probably will draw them closer together in the long-run."
Narraway is now less than two weeks from moving to Perpignan full-time, and is relishing the challenges ahead.
With one eye on life after rugby, the seven-cap England number eight has set up Narraway's Big Bull Pies, with his butcher father Ian.
And his thriving venture will have a stall at this weekend's Cheltenham Food Festival, held in Montpellier Gardens.
Mixing making long-term plans with the logistics of moving to France, Narraway said the last few months have been hectic – but he is excited by his Perpignan adventure.
Perpignan want Narraway to be the livewire spark that ignites the Catalan side's back-row, and he cannot wait to get stuck into delivering the goods.
He continued: "Things are going well with the pies, it's a move towards setting something up for after rugby.
"It's enjoyable to do something totally different from throwing a ball around, and there's been a very steep learning curve.
"But the food festival is a great chance to showcase local produce, and hopefully people will get involved.
"It's been a great transition for me, to be honest, and Perpignan have made me feel very welcome.
"They have been great to me in helping me get set up and settled in.
"They have been very clear in what they want in terms of bringing balance to the back-row, and I know I can work well in tandem with Strokes (Alasdair Strokosch), and it will be interesting and a great challenge working with the others.
"I've enjoyed every minute of my ten years at Kingsholm and this is a massive change.
"But whether you choose it or not, at some point you always have to accept change and move with the times.
"It's a really exciting challenge ahead, something totally different, and I can't wait now."