Doncaster Knights success 'not determined by league position'

Head coach Steve Boden says success at Doncaster Knights is not determined by their league position.

By Paul Goodwin
Thursday, 16th September 2021, 11:30 am
Updated Thursday, 16th September 2021, 11:49 am
Doncaster Knights 2021-22. Photo: Rod Wetton
Doncaster Knights 2021-22. Photo: Rod Wetton

Knights begin their new Championship campaign at Coventry on Saturday.

Boden guided the club to an impressive third place finish in last season’s shortened campaign – only finishing behind mighty Saracens and big-spending Ealing Trailfinders.

But he concedes that will be a difficult act to follow in his first undiluted 20-game season in charge.

"We've talked about the areas where we can kick on as a staff and with the senior players,” Boden told BBC Radio Sheffield.

“We're not a surprise package any more. We're not the Doncaster that's been finishing tenth.

“We finished third so you put a little bit of a marker on yourself, so you've got to be better and there's loads of areas where we can improve.

“Recruitment-wise I think we've got some better athletes this year to play at a higher pace.

“I think we're aware of some of the areas that let us down last year. Discipline was one. We gave a lot of soft, silly penalties away at times which allowed sides to get back into games we were in full control of.

“Quite often we were, say, 19 points up but the next minute they've scored two quick tries through lack of discipline and we're five points up.

“They're the sort of things we will address and hopefully we can do that and hopefully have another successful year.

“Success for us isn't really determined by us finishing third, fourth or fifth,” he added.

"Success for us is probably determined by whether we're producing talent and is our rugby programme the best in the north of England?

"If it is then usually the stuff we're talking about goes in the right direction.”

The forthcoming expansion of the Premiership from 13 to 14 teams has opened the door for another second tier club to join the top table from 2022/23 onwards.

But Boden has played down the prospect of Knights mounting a concerted promotion push and has underlined the financial limitations he is working under at Castle Park – and that’s not to mention the massive financial gulf that exists between the Premiership and Championship.

Well-backed Ealing are firm favourites to win promotion.

“I think realistically, if we actually think about where we are as a club, when I took the job it was about rebuilding the club,” said Boden, who took over from Clive Griffiths last year.

“The club was finishing ninth, tenth, 11th.

“We had a really successful season last year and overachieved by finishing third. We've got to keep our feet on the ground.

“We had a really good season last year but for us it's more about getting consistency before you can challenge to be a Premiership outfit.

“We've also got to think about the team. There's a lot of teams in our league that have got far bigger budgets than what we have.

“We overachieved last year and we're hoping to overachieve again this year. We've got to be realistic about the money we're spending.”