Gloucester Rugby: Nigel Davies still has top four conviction
NIGEL Davies has not lost any of his top-four conviction – and now he has challenged his Gloucester squad to retain it too.
Rugby director Davies concedes Gloucester are clear underdogs for tomorrow's Premiership clash with Northampton Saints at Kingsholm tomorrow (kick-off 3.15pm).
The Cherry and Whites boss still remains confident his side can shrug off their double-defeat opening to the new campaign.
Former management consultant Davies does not believe losses to Sale and Saracens have damaged Gloucester's chances of battling for the Premiership play-offs this term.
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But he has told his players they must start winning – and fast – to preserve their chances of the successful season touted in the summer.
Davies said: "The best-laid plans and all that: it's been a disappointing start, clearly.
"But we know we've got to keep carrying on and deal with it.
"We can turn this around, but we've got to do that quickly.
"So we need to start winning, and fast.
"It's a big week for us, no doubt, we're at home against one of the perennial top-four teams – we need a big performance, and we need a result.
"We've got to deliver: it's as simple as that.
"The sooner we start winning the better.
"I'm confident once this group starts to get some results under its belt we'll go from strength to strength – but we've got to start.
"My conviction on this group 47
of players hasn't changed.
"You always reflect and adapt as you move along.
"We're not where we want to be, every little detail is being pored over, but that's only natural.
"Northampton will come here strong favourites, based on the last two performances and results by both sides.
"So it's going to be a big task for us to get anything out of this game.
"We've done well when we've been underdogs in the past.
"But I'm sure Northampton will come here in top form.
"And we've got a lot of work to do to make sure we can be up there competing with them."
Gloucester have never lost the first three matches of a league season in the Premiership era.
The last time the Cherry and Whites lost their opening two Premiership matches was back in 2000/01.
Nick Wood's second-minute red card at Saracens entirely changed the course of Sunday's Premiership clash.
Gloucester's 12-10 half-time lead was impressive, but always false hope.
Saracens powered to five-try 44-12 victory, leaving the Kingsholm men deflated at Allianz Park.
Now Davies has told his players to puff out their chests and immediately regain the confidence of pre-season – to get their campaign on a roll, even against the toughest opponents.
Jim Mallinder's Northampton can boast two wins from their two games so far, and that off the back of reaching last term's Premiership final.
Davies admits tomorrow's visitors are favourites – but he believes this game is more about his squad rebuilding self-belief than anything else.
He continued: "It's about keeping the belief, the honesty, and ensuring we can still go out and enjoy our rugby.
"I want us to go out and have a crack at it, not shy away from things.
"We're a side built around playing good rugby, and that's what we've got to do now.
"The players know they have to be right on top of their game to get anything out of this match.
"Yes I do think we've got a point to prove to the fans, but more importantly I think the players have got a point to prove to themselves.
"I've got no doubt we'll be a lot better than the first game of the season, in that 22-16 defeat to Sale.
"We've got to make sure we don't back away from what we're trying to achieve here."