THE ARRIVAL of Namibia internationals Prince !Gaoseb – yes, that really is the correct spelling – and Darryl de la Harpe have given Yorkshire Carnegie a much-needed boost in time for tomorrow’s game against Ampthill.
Carnegie director of rugby Phil Davies has signed the two players who operated under him at the 2019 World Cup and puts them straight in for the Championship clash.
Given it is February and Carnegie still await their first win, the need for an injection of fresh talent is plain for all to see.
“Darryl’s a centre who has been to the last three World Cups with Namibia and someone I’ve coached for the last four years,” said Davies, who puts both straight into his starting XV.
“He’s got 50-odd caps, experience, is a good ball-player, a very good communicator and he’ll hopefully get us over the gaineline a bit. Prince has been in the Blue Bulls academy over the last couple of years and he was at this last World Cup as a 21 year-old.
“He is good over the ball and will bring a lot to our game.
“It’s great to have them on board and they’ve both had that recent experience of playing a World Cup in Japan which is great for us.
“We’ve been lacking a bit of depth to the backline in particular so it’s great we’ve got Darryl in and Prince is an out and out openside. They’ve trained well – as have all the boys – and we’ve begun to build on what was there before.”
Davies has made four changes with hooker Louis Mussetti returning to the pack and Tom Varndell back on the wing in place of Andrew Lawson, who is amongst the replacements.
Callum Bustin and James Flynn are also back from injury to bolster their bench.
Davies has been in charge for four weeks now and, though that first win still eludes them, he remains confident the squad is improving.
They lost 62-10 at Nottingham last week, illustrating how far they are still away.
But Davies said: “We’ve had time to reshape a few things and the effort has always been there from the boys.”
“With good coaching, we’ve managed to change the gameplan a bit and we’ve got a lot of enthusiasm.
“We’ve just lacked some experience so that’s where the Namibia boys help.
“We’re just looking at performances and where we can improve.
“For example, possession statistics are going up - we are able to keep the ball for longer periods now and we’re doing a lot of work on our defence and phase play.
“Now we’re looking at our defence at set-piece as we were badly exposed at Nottingham in that area.
“It’s trying to prioritise the coaching areas week in week out and get the balance right.”
Newly-promoted Ampthill, who lost 45-29 at leaders Newcastle Falcons last weekend, are enjoying a fine debut campaign in the second tier.
Many thought they would be favourites for relegation - before Carnegie’s financial plight saw them crumble - but they have won five of their 11 games to get up to sixth.
“They’ve done an amazing job over the last year with Paul Turner, my old Welsh mate,” said Davies.
“They’ve got a massive experience of English league rugby and some players there that I have coached previously.
“They have become competitive, know how to win games and are having a pretty good season now.
“We have to combat that and it will be a great challenge.”
Doncaster Knights look to continue their rise up the Championship standings when they make the long trip south to Cornish Pirates tomorrow.
The Knights have managed two away wins from their last eight games, but 15 points from their last five matches have seen them climb from second bottom up to seventh. Such is the tight nature of the teams immediately above bottom side Yorkshire Carnegie – five teams from Doncaster down to London Scottish are separated by one point – the Knights cannot take their foot off the gas.
Cornish are third, two points behind Ealing Trailfinders, and have won their last five home games.
Knights winger Kyle Evans said: “It’s going to be tough travelling all the way down there. But hopefully we can come away with a result which would be a great way to start the second half of the season.
“To be in with a chance of doing that we’ll have to cut out the penalties that we’ve been giving away in recent games.
“We also need to try and play with a bit more width than we did against London Scottish last week.”