Gloucester Rugby: We failed to inspire the team, says Davies
CANDID Nigel Davies admits he must fight to re-establish Gloucester's true identity in time for Sunday's brutal Premiership test at Saracens.
The Kingsholm rugby director has conceded he and his coaches 'failed to inspire' the Cherry and Whites on the league's opening weekend.
Gloucester slipped up 22-16 at home to Sale Sharks on Saturday, with former coach Bryan Redpath plotting the Kingsholm men's downfall.
Frustrated boss Davies expected a mental and physical acumen that never arrived against Sale, as the Sharks dominated the tight game and the breakdown.
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The 48-year-old former Trimsaran and Llanelli centre will send Gloucester into one of their toughest toe-to-toe tussles of the term at Allianz Park on Sunday (kick-off 2pm).
Gritty Saracens love flexing their muscles and proving themselves more potent and dominant than anyone else, when it comes to rugby's sheer tests of strength and fortitude.
So Davies said the coaching challenge has been simple this week: revisit club and civic pride, and steel the mind for skirmish and skulduggery.
He explained: "Ironically after a performance like that it's pretty straightforward what we need to do.
"It doesn't take a genius to work out where we need to improve.
"Really it's about revisiting who we are as a team, who we represent and what we represent.
"And we didn't show that on Saturday.
"It's frustrating because we spend time on those things in pre-season.
"Our job is to make sure we are absolutely clear, we're honest and we're up-front, as a coaching group with these players: and we've been working on that this week.
"We've failed as a group of coaches, obviously, to inspire the team to perform last weekend – and we take that personally.
"We're most definitely looking for a response now.
"Mentally it's been very tough but from a physical point of view and in focus, it's been pretty easy.
"Coming off such a poor performance as we have, from a coaching and playing perspective it's been very easy to get in the right frame of mind, which we obviously weren't at the weekend."
Only in April Gloucester slumped to an abysmal 32-9 Premiership defeat at Salford City Stadium against Sale – their worst defeat of last season.
A week later Davies' men hit back in style, dispatching play-offs bound Saracens 28-23 at Kingsholm.
Davies will enjoy a sweet irony in a repeat of that results sequence, with the host grounds in reverse.
He continued: "It's going to be very physical, ironically our worst defeat last year was Sale away and we ended up playing and beating Saracens a week later at home.
"So there's an irony there somewhere, perhaps it will turn out to be a positive one.
"Saracens now is probably one of the best games we could have had, it's a huge challenge that awaits us.
"There's a lot of frustrated players in my squad who have let themselves down, as much as anybody else, but we've let the supporters down with a completely under-par performance last weekend.
"We need a big performance off the back of that. We've made one or two changes but in the main it's up to the guys to redeem themselves really.
"It's difficult to get front-foot ball against anybody if you don't get the detail right.
"So that's paramount.
"There is a responsibility on certain elements of the team, to perform, and certain areas to make sure we do get reasonable primary possession so we can actually control the game for long periods."
Saracens' simple but mightily effective mix of physicality and regiment leaves little to the imagination for Sunday's league clash.
Davies wants his players to meet it head-on.