Davies backing Kalamafoni to find top form
INJURY-HIT back-rower Sione Kalamafoni will be back to his destructive best for the start of the Premiership season, tips Nigel Davies.
The brutal Tongan loose-forward sustained a minor injury during Gloucester's early pre-season preparations.
But rugby director Davies expects the 25-year-old powerhouse to find his devastating line-breaking form quickly now.
Former Nottingham flanker Kalamafoni started last Friday's 42-17 defeat in Toulon, lasting for the first half as planned.
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Davies believes the 18-cap wrecking-ball can now accelerate his return to frontline action, in time to hit his straps for Gloucester's opening league game against Sale Sharks at Kingsholm on Saturday, September 7.
The Gloucester boss explained: "Sione's coming back from a pre-season injury and he's not quite fit yet.
"We gave him a half against Toulon to help him on his route back to full fitness.
"He showed some nice touches and good moments against Toulon, but he is obviously working back up to the pace of the game.
"That will all come as he continues to get over the injury, and we'll look forward to him hitting top speed.
"He's such a destructive player when he's in prime form, and we're confident he'll be able to be there for the start of the league season.
"I think it's clear how we look to use our back-row to launch certain elements of our game, and Sione had a big hand in that last season.
"We've got a number of players in those positions that can do that though, and the competition for places there is looking great already."
While Gloucester's back-row could be more competitive than ever after Matt Kvesic's arrival from Worcester, Davies also predicts a serious front-row tussle.
Bristol-born 23-year-old Yann Thomas is continuing his apprenticeship at tighthead prop, making the gradual switch from loosehead.
Thomas' biggest test on his more unfamiliar side of the scrum yet came against Toulon last week, when he packed down against former England man Andrew Sheridan.
Thomas battled manfully against renowned scrummager Sheridan, even forcing the former Sale man into submission on several occasions.
Rupert Harden and Shaun Knight are once again expected to be Gloucester's frontline tightheads, but already Davies sees no reason why Thomas cannot crack that cartel.
Davies continued: "Yann did extremely well, we should have had a penalty try when he was in there.
"And he stood up to one of the best scrummaging sides in Europe, and did not let anybody down.
"Our scrum was strong when Yann was on the field, so that's a good indicator.
"It's obviously a fairly lengthy process, making that transition from loose to tighthead.
"So as before, there's no rush to throw him in too far too soon, but by the same token, if he continues at the pace he has already set, then we'll be delighted."
Matson RFC product Reece Boughton made his senior Gloucester debut out at Stade Mayol, the 18-year-old scrum-half impressing in a cameo off the bench.
Davies praised the new addition to Gloucester's senior academy for immediately settling to his first-team task.
Boughton will need time to hone his trade, but Davies is unfazed about the prospect of the gritty youngster stepping up while Jimmy Cowan continues his knee surgery rehabilitation.
Davies added: "I thought Reece was excellent, you can't underestimate how difficult that must have been, going onto the field in the latter stages to face all that talent.
"But he stood up well, he's got a sharp, flat pass, he always looks to provide good service, and that's going to stand him in good stead.
"I thought Tav (Knoyle) did well too, he was tidy on his debut, and it just goes to show what depth and quality we have there at nine this year."