Doncaster Knights ‘hell-bent’ on big improvement - Clive Griffiths
Doncaster Knights are ready to fight back after two seasons of failing to meet expectations, according to director of rugby Clive Griffiths.
Disappointing seventh and tenth place finished have come amid troubles off the field over the last two years, including Griffiths himself suffering a heart attack last September.
But now, with the arrival of three new coaches including head coach Tom Smith, Griffiths back to full health and a renewed determination, things are looking up for the club.
Speaking from the Greene King IPA Championship launch event at Twickenham Stadium ahead of the 2019/20 season, Griffiths said: “Last season, we had a lot of injuries and there were several things going on but the last two seasons haven’t lived up to our expectations.
“We’re hell-bent on making this a real good season and emulating the two seasons before those two and get in the top four.
“We want to have a big say on promotion rather than looking over our shoulders at the dreaded position of relegation.
“There’s only one place to get back to expectations and that’s on the training field. We’ve been going hell for leather for seven weeks now and we’ve seen some great gains.”
Smith is joined at the club by new assistant coach Steve Boden and skills & backs coach Francis Cummins. Griffiths says they have brought a new energy to Castle Park which has reinvigorated everyone involved.
He added: “Our new coaching staff are keen to impress too and everyone is eager to get going. The games can’t come quick enough as we need something tangible at the end to show for it.
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“The new guys will bring different voices and a different approach. Any new idea is a good idea, sometimes it’s painful but we get on well and there’s a lot of specialism to this group now with Tom, Steve and Francis.”
Of particular concern last season was the fact Doncaster lost 14 games, even if they did finish nine points clear of relegation.
It is a statistic which has forced much self-reflection according to back row Michael Hills, who believes they must find consistency and greater fitness to improve.
He said: “Last season wasn’t good enough. We need to make big improvements. We weren’t consistent enough and I don’t think we were fit enough.
“We’re working on that now and with our three new coaches we’re looking in a good place.
“There’s lots of areas we can improve. We want to be fitter to allow us to be more consistent and we’re tinkering with attacking and defensive structures. We had some great performances last year but we just couldn’t back them up.
“With the squad we’ve put together, we’ve got to be aiming towards the top four. Sometimes that’s the cycle of sport where you have those killer years and then a downturn but I can see we’re on the way back up now.”