George Skivington has admitted there has been some candid talk on the Gloucester training ground in the wake of their latest Gallagher Premiership defeat, adding that the injury to out-half Lloyd Evans could see them forced into recruiting an out-half on a short-term basis to help them in their relegation fight.
Beaten 31-26 at Kingsholm by Northampton last Saturday, Gloucester will head to London Irish next Saturday bottom of the table on seven points, three points behind next-best Worcester after seven rounds of league action.
There has been speculation that relegation will eventually be scrapped this season and the side finishing at the bottom of the Premiership will not go down. However, rather than wait in hope for that potential safety net to arrive, new boss Skivington has been giving his players some tough love in the wake of their latest setback.
“We have certainly gone done the honest conversations route,” admitted rookie Gloucester boss Skivington. “We did some good stuff, put ourselves in a good position to go on and win the game and as I said after there was some clocking off.
“We have looked at that as a bit of growth in some of younger, less experienced guys to understand this game is an 80-minute game and in the Premiership, if you clock off it can be a seven-point costing for you which it was a couple of times for us on the weekend.”
The behind closed doors loss prompted an outpouring of criticism online but Skivington is pleading for supporters to retain patience with the process of overhauling a team he took over last June. “My message is we have stripped everything back, we have done some massive changes in the background.
“The squad is very different from what it was previously and we are working extremely hard to pull it all together and make strides that we think will be successful and sustainable in the future. No one could be working any harder, no one could be more focused, but these things take time. Would we love it to happen tomorrow, would we love to win the games we missed out the last few weeks? Absolutely.
“In terms of a process, we are very process-driven. We knew there would be some pain to suffer. Is it fun going through the pain? No but it’s the reality of it so that is where we are at at the moment and everyone is on board and working extremely hard. Hopefully, the tide will turn and we will get a result.
“At the very beginning of this process we knew the squad looked different, we knew the coaching staff looked different, we sat down and said right, do we go for an approach where we just tick along or do we rip it up and go with the processes we believe will be successful in the long run and start getting the young Gloucester lads on the pitch at different stages and doing something that can go forward and we have chosen to do that.
“We sat as a group and said this will be painful. These things will always come with a little stone throwing and that is where you have got to be strong in what you believe is right… you know it is going to be painful. Does it make it any less painful knowing what you are doing? No, it doesn’t, it’s hard work and that’s the nature of the beast,” he said before switching to the injury concern surrounding Evans.
He limped off with an ankle problem versus Saints and with Danny Cipriani having left the club and Adam Hastings not arriving until the summer, Skivington will be relying on centre Billy Twelvetrees switching position or having faith in Gloucester academy out-half George Barton.
“Lloyd isn’t great,” said Skivington. “He was going to see another specialist today [Tuesday]. He will be out for a period for sure. It’s not ideal for us… it’s very unfortunate timing. I don’t think it will next week or the week after (that he will be back). Right now that is where we are at (with Twelvetrees and Barton as alternatives). We will have to review do we need to bring someone else in short-term.”
Things aren't getting any easier for Gloucester. https://t.co/RtY7g1fUn9
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 30, 2021
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