Doncaster Knights: ‘There is a huge rebuilding job to do’ – Clive Griffiths
Director of rugby Clive Griffiths admits there is a ‘huge rebuilding job’ to be done at Doncaster Knights this summer.
Knights brought the curtain down on a disappointing campaign with successive home defeats to Coventry and Cornish Pirates.
They won just eight times in 22 league matches and could only manage victories against Hartpury, Richmond, Bedford and London Scottish at their Castle Park home where they previously boasted an enviable record.
Knights finished tenth in the Championship – their lowest position since they were relegated to National One in 2013.
“There is the need for some rejuvenation at the club and that is why (benefactor) Steve Lloyd has done what he has done,” said Griffiths.
“The good news is that despite relegation worries at times we are still in the Championship.
“The bad news is there is a huge rebuilding job to do and it is going to take more than the signings we’ve made to do that.
“It’s going to take a very good off-season and for us to regroup and make improvements in a lot of different areas as well as thinking about the way we play the game and defend.”
The number of points conceded this season – the third highest in the league - has caused particular concern for Griffiths.
“I brought in one of the best defence coaches in the world in Phil Larder after I had my heart problem and couldn’t work with the players,” said Griffiths.
“But despite the fact that both he and I have worked at the highest level - he’s helped win a World Cup with England and I helped Wales win a Grand Slam - what we have said at times this season has fallen on deaf ears.
“At the end of the day, I pick the team so I have to shoulder the blame when results go against us or we play badly.
“Obviously we aren’t happy to finish where we did but we’ve possibly got carried away at with the success we’ve had in the past.
“Having said that it was well deserved and we’ve got to be proud of finishing second and fourth and reaching the play-off final.
“I thought last year we were affected by what happened to Ian Williams but this season we haven’t been good enough.”
Former Scotland captain and British Lions forward Tom Smith has been appointed as head coach and will succeed Griffiths at the end of next season.
“I know that we all live in the here and now and that’s why the changes (to the coaching staff) have been made with regards to the succession factor,” said Griffiths.
“I want to see out the final year of my contract and see the players we are bringing in take the club back to where we were and not like we were against Pirates [in the 46-19 final day defeat].
“People like Steve Lloyd and Tony De Mulder are gems and have supported me through thick and thin and I’ll be hell-bent on making my final season at the club another memorable one.”