Gloucester Rugby: Walkinshaw hails stability with Davies at helm
GLOUCESTER'S settled playing squad will not need another major overhaul for next season, believes Ryan Walkinshaw.
Cherry and Whites executive chairman Walkinshaw predicts the Kingsholm club will see the least amount of transfer activity in a number of years.
Delighted by that expected stability, Walkinshaw said new rugby director Nigel Davies will still be allowed opportunity to put his own stamp on Kingsholm proceedings.
Davies inherited a squad composed by Bryan Redpath and John Brain, but has been able to make the already-notable additions of Tommaso d'Apice and Rob Cook.
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Walkinshaw said closing out new deals for out-of-contract stars is the current priority number one then, and he tipped next term's squad to retain a similar framework.
The 24-year-old Gloucester chief explained: "I think there will certainly be a lot less movement than in the past few years,
"We've got a huge amount of confidence in our current players, we've got a good squad and we want to build on that momentum.
"Nigel and I have already had discussions and we've already said very simply that there's a lot of good players at the club now and there's a lot of guys we want to keep on.
"So before we start talking about external players we've got one priority, and that's keeping hold of the players who we feel add a huge amount of value to the team and who we want to invest in for the future."
England Saxons flyer Jonny May leads a cast of 19 men whose current deals expire at the end of this campaign.
Testimonial men Alex Brown and Nick Wood are also on that list, along with player/backs coach Mike Tindall, scrum-halves Dave Lewis and Dan Robson, and impressive back-five forward Tom Savage.
A summer of change on the coaching front always raised potential for another sizeable squad revamp at the end of this season, but Walkinshaw is confident that will not now materialise.
He continued: "It's easy to start getting complacent and thinking that things are going really well."
It's the start of the season and we've still got a long way to go, but the performances still show a huge amount of improvement from the end of last year.
"There's still plenty to work on, but on the whole we're winning games that potentially last year we maybe wouldn't have had the mindset and potentially wouldn't have won.
"So huge credit has to go to Nigel for that, his work ethic and his attitude towards the game and his management role is outstanding.
"I couldn't ask for a better person to work with, and everyone at the club says the same thing.
"He breeds a lot of confidence into the board, just as he instils confidence into the players.
"It's a positive atmosphere that ends up brewing underneath it, and long may that continue."
Along with retention and then recruitment, Walkinshaw cited World Cup 2015 planning and lobbying as another crucial challenge for Gloucester's board.
Walkinshaw praised Gloucester City Council's role in helping Kingsholm make the shortlist of potential venues for England's showpiece tournament in three years' time.
He added: "The World Cup venue announcement was big, so that's a big priority.
"We'd like to thank the council for their tireless work on that front.
"We would not even have been considered had it not been for the huge amount of effort they put in.
"It's great that they have shortlisted a real rugby venue like Gloucester.
"It's a demonstration of how much the organisers believe in Gloucester as a rugby city.
"It's great that the city and the club have worked together so closely to produce a pitch that they find attractive, and that will hopefully lead to some exciting matches at Kingsholm.
"There's still a lot of work to do on that front, but we would love to host matches at the stadium, and we're doing everything we can to make that happen.
"It's a long way for Gloucester fans to go to watch international rugby, so if we can bring the World Cup to their doorstep that would be a great achievement."