‘Our season starts this weekend’.
That’s the message Brett Davey has relayed to his squad as Doncaster Knights aim to get out of the starting blocks at London Scottish on Saturday.
Following defeats to Plymouth Albion and Bristol, a 37-3 reverse at Championship favourites Newcastle Falcons last Friday left Knights with just one point from their opening three games.
A serious shoulder injury to key man Michael Keating - expected to keep the Irishman out until the New Year - has also compounded a difficult few weeks for Davey and his new-look squad.
But Knights’ director of rugby was defiant with his message when he spoke to the Free Press this week.
Davey said: “I’ve told the lads that our season starts at London Scottish.
“The next six week period is very important for us. It’s important we start to put a few wins on the board.
“We should have got something out of the Plymouth game but Newcastle and Bristol’s budgets are on a different level to us.
“Newcastle have got a budget around the £4 million mark. It’s like chalk and cheese when you compare that to ourselves.
“But over the next couple of months we’ll play sides who are more or less on a level playing field - teams we should be competitive against. Judge us after those games.”
Jamie Lennard kicked a solitary penalty for Doncaster at Kingston Park - in front of a crowd of over 4,000 - as Newcastle flexed their Championship muscles and maintained their perfect record.
But Davey refused to be downbeat about the defeat.
“We battled away but unfortunately came up against a side who are the best team we’ll play this season,” he said.
“Two late tries perhaps made the scoreline suggest it was one-way traffic.
“But our lads can take heart from the way they defended for long periods against a team with six internationals in it.”
Keating, meanwhile, will have an operation on his shoulder next month after learning the full extent of his injury.
The winger-turned-full back is expected to be out of action until January.