MOST people would view it as a poisoned chalice but new Rotherham Titans head coach Nic Rouse insists he can make a success of the role.
The 36-year-old stepped up from assistant after Andy Key was sacked just two days before Christmas following another loss against Doncaster Knights.
With Rotherham marooned at the bottom of the Championship, still awaiting a first league win of the season, the only surprise was Key’s departure had not come sooner.
However, he was the third coach in as many seasons to fail to see out a full campaign for the cash-strapped club, a sign of just how big the challenge ahead surely is for Rouse.
Many believe they are already doomed for relegation but the former Sale Sharks and London Irish lock maintains he is not daunted and – in his first head coach appointment – is beginning to make slight alterations that he hopes will bring great dividends.
“We’re just making some subtle changes,” he told The Yorkshire Post, ahead of today’s British & Irish Cup game against Richmond at Clifton Lane.
“We can’t change everything –we’re in the middle of the season – but we can do some things to emphasise in certain areas.
“I want us to be a bit more direct at times and to play in the right areas.
“If we can play at a good, quick tempo then we have shown we have some good players to do that. We can score tries. But I know we have to be more clinical in attack and we’re working on that.”
Rouse, whose only game so far was a 27-18 loss at Hartpury, has been put in charge for the foreseeable future and, in his eyes, someone now has to take the job off him.
We can’t change everything –we’re in the middle of the season – but we can do some things to emphasise in certain areas.Rotherham Titans’ head coach, Nic Rouse.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m in the job at the moment and I’ll be doing my best to try claw some wins,” he said.
“That’s all we can focus on. I’m rotating the squad this weekend for the B&I Cup game against Richmond, giving some players who’ve not played recently a chance to put their hand up.
“Then we’ll go to Connacht next Friday for the Cup game with a strong squad looking forward to the Cornish Pirates match in the league the week after.
“That is the big one we’re looking at; these next two games are all building towards that,” he stressed.
“Just getting that first league win would give us a massive lift to build on.
“I know it is going to be tough and people are writing us off.
“But all we can do is go out against Pirates and get that win to get that monkey off our back,” he added.
“Things have improved over the last month certainly defensively but our aim is to sharpen up now in attack.”
Rouse arrived at Rotherham ahead of the new season along with Key who had offered his continued support when leaving the club last month.
“Kiwi was great and said if I needed anything to just pick up the phone,” he said.
“Everything that we’ve been doing all year is in his computer so the information is still there.
“But we’ve taken a little bit of the detail out, narrowed it down to hopefully focus on the things I think will make us win a game of rugby.
“You learn a lot about yourself in your first year of coaching and I think I already have since moving here.
“I’m looking forward to taking that on now.”
He has certainly garnered plenty of tips from those coaches he has worked under during his playing career.
Rouse, who started out at Bath academy and also played for Plymouth and Nottingham, said: “I worked with Martin Haag and Glenn Delaney at London Irish and they definitely had a big impact on me in certain areas.
“But also I actually learned a great deal from Mike Brewer, the Kiwi at Sale.
“He didn’t last long there but I learned a lot in that short space of time.
“Things didn’t really work out for him, mainly with his man-management, but the other side of that coin is that I’ve learned how to treat players in a certain way.”