Gloucester Rugby: Nigel Davies can be talent spotter
GLOUCESTER do not need a specialist talent scout – Nigel Davies has the experience and know-how to add that into his busy Kingsholm portfolio, believes Chris Ferguson.
Acting managing director Ferguson held a lengthy meeting with rugby director Davies earlier this week, as Gloucester make headway with player retention.
The Cherry and Whites have 20 players out of contract at the end of the current campaign, so Ferguson and Davies met on Thursday to push forward the process of holding onto the club's top talent.
Kingsholm boss Davies has taken this LV=Cup fortnight as a chance to step back from the very frontline of coaching and concentrate on arranging new deals for Gloucester's out-of-contract stars.
Premiership rivals like Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints employ full-time chief scouts, to aid in unearthing new-recruit gems from across the globe that prove impressive value for money.
Bryan Redpath brought John Brain into his management set-up to handle that role.
But now Ferguson believes Davies is perfectly-placed to pick up that scouting slack – because the coaching team below him offer more flexibility to the former Llanelli boss' duties in the top Kingsholm role.
Ferguson explained: "I had a long meeting with Nigel about retention and squad make-up on Thursday morning, and it was very productive.
"Nigel's knowledge base is very impressive, and he has a great handle on what is happening now and what we would like to see happen in the future.
"He is more than qualified and experienced enough to take the lead on the retention and recruitment side of things.
"He is a director of rugby in the truest sense of the term, and the coaching team he has put around him allows him the space when it is needed to deal with all these sorts of off-field issues.
"So there is not necessarily the same requirement outside of that for other hands to help in terms of recruitment and retention.
"Nigel is in control of all of that, and I think that only adds to the positive and exciting feeling that's around the club now.
"We're in a pretty strong position with the squad we already have, and as Nigel has already said there will not be any need for huge changes there.
"This phase is all about the retention then, and that's what we're handling now."
Meanwhile rugby director Davies has pledged the Cherry and Whites will always strive to push through three or four home-grown youngsters every season.
The start of the LV=Cup campaign has led to Gloucester handing a host of youngsters a chance to shine in the first team.
Davies said Gloucester will continue to produce and promote quality, local young talent – and he admitted the club has minimum targets they hope to hit consistently.
Current stars like Jonny May and Freddie Burns cut their teeth in the LV=Cup, and former Llanelli Scarlets boss Davies said the Cherry and Whites will never shy away from blooding youngsters in the competition.
He explained: "The aim is certainly have three or four players coming through into the senior squad each year.
"That's the kind of ratio we have now, and we are all very proud of the club's Academy system and the extremely fruitful relationship we have with Hartpury College too.
"Gloucester has always been a club that values and champions youngsters' ability, and that will never change.
"It's absolutely vital you bring through local youngsters, that process shows a lot about the environment of a club.
"We are in a strong position but we are also keen to keep pushing that forward, and we're always looking at ways to improve what we do."