New coaches bring fresh approach to Portsmouth

Portsmouth are aiming to avoid a repeat of the relegation battle last season
Portsmouth are aiming to avoid a repeat of the relegation battle last season
Dylan Raubenheimer. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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It is all change at Rugby Camp with new coaches Ben Dudley and Jim Pearce taking charge at Portsmouth.

The team play their final pre-season warm-up game against Trojans at Rugby Camp tomorrow ahead of their trip to Old Dartfordians in the RFU Intermediate Cup next week.

He talks a lot of sense, understands the game well and is a terrific addition

Jim Pearce

Pearce, who has moved across from Locks Heath Pumas, is happy with the way things are shaping up.

‘Pre-season has been all about getting players to buy into what we want and to change one or two things,’ said Pearce.

‘We are happy with the way things have gone so far.

‘It is about getting the players to fulfil their potential and a change in playing style.

‘The performances in our pre-season games have been pleasing.’

The club also have a new captain in Kiwi Damien Gibbs, who is in the area for a year working at HMS Collingwood.

The back-row forward has a lot of experience, having played with the Combined Services back in New Zealand.

‘Damien rocked up towards the end of last season and is a terrific addition,’ said Pearce.

‘He talks a lot of sense, understands the game well and the players listen to him.

‘By making him captain it gives others the chance to focus on their game.’

Other newcomers include second-row forward Darren Leggott, from Millbrook, scrum-half Danny Holbrook, from Essex, and Josh Palmer, an ex-St Ives winger.

‘Darren is a big unit and played National League rugby with Otley when he was younger,’ said Pearce.

‘Danny played for Hampshire at the end of last season and has been playing rugby league with the local Seahawks side during the summer.

‘Palmer is on a year placement at IBM.’

Stuart Forbes, Tom Chance and Freddie Hoare have all moved across from the Pumas.

Portsmouth escaped relegation from London two south west by the skin of their teeth last season – with a final day win at Old Alleynians.

Pearce is hoping the changes brought in will help avoid another relegation-battling season.

They start their league campaign at Warlingham on Saturday, September 19.