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Rugby: There will be no quick fix admits Pountney
LIONS chief Budge Pountney admits it could take time for his blueprint to bear fruit and is warning: “It is going to be a bumpy ride.”
Former Scotland captain Pountney is keen to manage expectations as he prepares for his first competitive match since succeeding David Dunn as Bournemouth’s director of rugby.
The ex-Northampton flanker will officially begin life in the Lions hot seat when Bournemouth host Taunton in their National Two South season opener on Saturday (2.30pm).
Pountney is confident supporters will soon see the benefits of Lions’ hard graft and new approach – but he also believes there will be no quick fix as players adjust to the ideas of his coaching staff.
Speaking to the Daily Echo at a club open evening last night, Pountney said: “In terms of the structure, strategy and changing philosophy, we are getting there. The players are really appreciating it and loving what we are doing.
“I think that is a good thing but it is going to be a bumpy ride, there is no doubt about that. A team which finishes just above relegation in the previous season clearly needs a lot of work to be done.
“But the players are really focused, they have trained harder than they have ever trained and they are feeling good about themselves. They are also beginning to understand what we want from them.
“Hopefully, going forward in the first month, we will perform well, play some decent rugby and get some points on the board.
“These guys haven’t played a huge amount of rugby together. There are quite a few new faces. That takes time and some bedding in.
“We have come a long way in pre-season but when you get to league games, it is a totally different matter. They have got to step up on Saturday.”
Prop Alan Manning has retained the Lions captaincy and is set to make his 93rd consecutive league appearance for the club against Taunton.
Former Oakmeadians captain Andy Graesser, fellow lock Rob Fuller, flanker Joe Rees and ex-Hartpury College winger Russell Westcott are all poised to make their full debuts.
Pountney added: “There have been a lot of changes to the coaching and playing staff and everybody gets quite excited about that, which is great and that is what you want.
“But there also has to be a level of managing expectations in terms of the fact it is still very new and we are playing in a very competitive league against teams that have been together for a long time. We have to be careful not to get ahead of ourselves.
“However, the boys have put in such hard work that it wouldn’t surprise me if they managed to throw in some very good performances this season.”
Lions: (provisional) Pollard, Westcott, Robinson, Chislett, Connolly, Drake, Hardcastle; Carrel, Wilford, Manning, Fuller, Graesser, Hughes, Rees, Hart. Subs: Booth, Terry, Peart, McGowan, Stewart.
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