Doncaster Knights aim to be ‘underdogs and overachievers’ once again in 23/24

Steve Boden wants Doncaster Knights to be the "underdogs and overachievers" once again this season.
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Knights begin the 2023/24 campaign at home to newly promoted Cambridge in the Premiership Cup on Friday - the first of five pool-stage games before the Championship season begins on October 21.

Boden’s side finished sixth in the second tier last season and reached the semi-final of the Championship Cup.

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"I actually think last season was a bigger achievement than finishing second," said director of rugby Boden.

Doncaster Knights chief Steve Boden (picture: Tony Johnson).Doncaster Knights chief Steve Boden (picture: Tony Johnson).
Doncaster Knights chief Steve Boden (picture: Tony Johnson).

"We have been victims of our own success. It's sport, it's never a linear process, especially at this level.

"After we finished second we lost five or six of our best players, they got cherry-picked.

"We had 12 players out for more than three-and-a-half months each at a time last year. I have never known an injury list like it."

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Knights shuffled their pack over the summer with 21 new players replacing the 20 who departed. Ten members of last year's team also stayed on.

But the club's approach of developing talent and producing something on the pitch as a team which is greater than the sum of its parts has not changed.

"We want to be the underdogs and overachievers and pushing boundaries for people to get behind us," said Boden.

"I have really enjoyed working with this group so far, we have got genuine competition and a lot of people that want to get better.

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"We are never going to sit here and say 'we want to get top four, top three, top two’ because we don't look at it like that.

"We want to continue to grow a club that's got very high standards, that's also a rugby club at the hub of the community and has an element of pride for people when they watch us."

Boden did call for more consistency from his team this term.

"That's one of the things we lacked last year," he said.

"We were quite easy to beat. We were either very good and could blow people away but when we got put into an arm wrestle we didn't stick with it long enough.

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"(This year) we have got a very well-balanced squad. There's a lot of competition and I do think that eradicates complacency.

"You have got to be on it, otherwise you don't play."

New-look Knights comfortably beat Wales' RGC 1404 41-7 in their only pre-season game but Boden admitted they need more time to reach their potential.

"The squad will completely rotate throughout this cup competition," he said.

"The most they have played is 40 minutes, we will be a little bit undercooked this Friday.

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"We train quite intensely but it's not the same as matchdays.

"We have got a 31-man squad, we need to try and balance the workload.

"We are going out to win every game but we have got to make sure we last the season."

On the challenge of Cambridge, Boden added: "It's their first opportunity to put a marker down as a Championship club. There's going to be a lot of emotion for them.

"There's going to be that challenge but we are playing at home, we have got a pretty good new group, I'm expecting the emotions of our new players to be in a good place."