Scarlets reunion will be emotional says boss Davies
TWIN emotional ties will help Nigel Davies through a first-ever encounter against hometown club Llanelli Scarlets tonight.
Gloucester boss Davies spent his entire club career – as both player and coach – at Llanelli and the Scarlets before his Kingsholm switch last summer.
When the former Wales centre joined the Cherry and Whites, he admitted he was relieved not to have to face the club that had dominated his life.
A year on the Gloucester rugby director will host the Scarlets, in the second half of an intriguing double-header Kingsholm double-header.
After the Cherry and Whites take on Plymouth (5pm), Davies will chart new waters in his extensive rugby career by going up against the Scarlets (7.45pm).
The former management consultant thinks taking on the club he grew up supporting, before serving on and off the field, will prove easier now he has built an attachment at Gloucester.
While no one would dispute the Scarlets will always be Davies' club, by the same token he has freely admitted his growing passion for all things Kingsholm.
Davies explained: "I thought it was a good idea at the start of the summer – now I'm not so sure!
"For me it's going to be very emotional, obviously a side I've got a huge association with, so all the players and the coaches, I've been part of their development.
"But now I feel very much a big part of Gloucester, I've loved my time at Gloucester, it's a fantastic place and a rugby environment.
"And to have two teams that I feel like that about and care for playing against each other is very emotional.
"I'm going to enjoy it for what it is, the whole occasion, and I'm sure I'll enjoy the contest too.
"This time last year this game would have been a lot more difficult.
"The Scarlets and Llanelli have had a place in pretty much my entire life, and I extremely proud of that association and that will never change.
"But now I feel I've settled in at Gloucester, and I can feel the kind of link that certainly means a lot.
"So I think it is probably easier to go up against the Scarlets now I have established and fostered that kind of commitment at Gloucester.
"There's a great group of people at Gloucester, you have to respect the tradition and history, and I'm 100 per cent committed to Gloucester performing well and winning."
Former Scarlets scrum-half Tavis Knoyle will go up against his old club from the off tonight, getting the nod for the second clash ahead of both Dan Robson and fit-again Jimmy Cowan.
While All Black World Cup-winner Cowan is still seeking match fitness, Robson has looked sharp after recovering from shoulder surgery.
Knoyle impressed in his try-scoring Gloucester debut out in Toulon though, and will certainly be keen to make an immediate impression against his former employers.
After defeats at Toulon and Munster, Davies expects improvements – and results – tonight, in both contests.
The Gloucester chief has selected a clear first-choice line-up to face the Scarlets, but stressed competition remains wide open ahead of the Premiership opener against Sale on Saturday week.
Davies continued: "We've had a good pre-season and we've made progress, but now I want to see a distinct step up in the level.
"It's time to move things on and push ourselves forward to the point where we're ready for that first game of the season.
"We're pushing our squad to its limits tonight in putting on two back-to-back matches, but that's a great test at a great time.
"Perform well tonight, in either match, and hopefully players can give us some serious selection headaches as coaches, ahead of next week."