Gloucester Rugby: Nigel Davies ready for negotiating table
NIGEL Davies will take a step back from frontline coaching in this LV=Cup fortnight – to take control of tying up new deals for Gloucester's out-of- contract stars.
The Cherry and Whites rugby director will still play a pivotal role in preparing the team for their Anglo-Welsh Cup clashes with the Ospreys and London Welsh.
But the former Llanelli Scarlets boss has earmarked the next two weeks as the perfect opportunity to handle the bulk of the contract work for his existing players.
Players out of contract: Koree Britton, Alex Brown, Pete Buxton, Dario Chistolini, Tommaso d’Apice, Gareth Evans, Brad Field, Andy Hazell, Will James, Dave Lewis, Drew Locke, Jonny May, Shane Monahan, Dan Murphy, Dan Robson, Tom Savage, Martyn Thomas, Yann Thomas, Mike Tindall, Nick Wood
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Davies is aiming to retain the majority of Gloucester's 20 squad members whose current deals expire at the end of this season.
Brad Field's recent addition has swollen the number of Cherry and Whites searching for new contracts.
Flying wing Jonny May, player/backs coach Mike Tindall and testimonial duo Alex Brown and Nick Wood head that cast list, along with stalwart flankers Andy Hazell and Pete Buxton.
Former Wales centre Davies is keen to make good retention progress now that the Cherry and Whites' season is up and running.
Rival clubs are not allowed to approach players from other teams until January 1, when expiring contracts have six months left to run.
Davies is keen to head off open-season for his coveted stars – and he said that process should take shape now.
He explained: "There are a lot of agents in touch all the time really. I've had to prioritise on certain things coming in so late.
"As director of rugby there's a lot that goes unseen, but the main thing you get judged on is the team's performance.
"That's been the primary focus up until this point and it will continue to be, but now maybe I can look at other things as well.
"Particularly after the Harlequins game I might pull myself back a little bit from front-line coaching to make sure that we look at retention first and foremost and then see where the gaps are."
Impressed with the strength of the current Gloucester squad, Davies said there will certainly be new recruits for next term – but he expects to retain the majority of the current Kingsholm set-up.
John Brain and Bryan Redpath were central to recruiting the bulk of the current Gloucester squad, though Davies has added Rob Cook, Tommaso d'Apice and Field since his arrival.
Praising the recruitment process under the previous regime, Davies said there are firm foundations in place – and now the challenge is to carry Gloucester to the next level.
He continued: "I firmly believe this is a good squad and there's a lot of growth in it, so if we can hold on to the majority of guys who are out of contract then there won't be a huge amount of new signings.
"But there will always be the odd two, three or four, because you need to bring fresh blood in, and there will be areas where we need to strengthen too.
"A lot of hard work went into the process of building the current squad, and we're seeing the fruits of that process now – so we can't forget that, it's been an important part of where we've been able to get to.
"We work very well here. It's a really good environment from a coaching perspective, everybody does their bit and it's very healthy."