No room for sentiment as Portsmouth RFC coach targets return to winning form in derby with Gosport & Fareham

Neil McRoberts accepts there is no room for sentiment as Portsmouth host his old club Gosport & Fareham in a crucial London Three South West contest at Rugby Camp (2.30pm).

Friday, 22nd November 2019, 8:22 am
Kieran McRoberts in action for Gosport & Fareham last season

McRoberts started playing his rugby as a junior at Gosport & Fareham and his family are deeply blue and gold through and through.

He admits family ties are strong.

'On my mother's side I don't think there has been a year since the club existed without a member of our family in the Gosport & Fareham side,' said McRoberts.

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'The connections are very strong..

'I started playing rugby at Gosport when I was four years old.

'From then until I was 36 years old, on and off I played at Gosport.

'I went off to Havant for a while and then played with Leicester when I was at Loughborough University

'The last time the two teams met in the league I was head coach at Gosport.

'Even now my two boys Arthur (7) and Edwin (4) are starting their rugby just like I did at Gosport.

'However, my focus this weekend will be on getting a Portsmouth win.

'It is a very important game for us on the back of four successive defeats.'

Portsmouth have had their promotion ambitions badly damaged by a quartet of losses.

McRoberts is aware that his side need to turn their fortunes quickly.

Both teams are desperate to win - for different reasons.

Portsmouth need to get back on track to keep in touch with the top four and the visitors need the points to pull away from the relegation zone.

'This is a very important game,' said McRoberts.

'We know that we have to start stringing a run of wins together.

'Our job this week has been reinforcing the fact that we have not suddenly become a bad team.

'There are any number of good rugby players in our team.

'A derby against Gosport is the perfect chance for us to go out and show it.

'It will be tough because our opponents do have in their side players who have London One experience.

'They are also a club that has a very good infrastructure.'

The home side are boosted by the return of a number of influential players, notably captain Daz Leggat in the second row.

He will be joined by abrasive Royal Navy player Kieran Heffernan.

In the three-quarters Matt Farnes is at outside half with Kieran McRoberts lines up against his old club in the centre.

The home side also include prop forward Will Rolfe, who has moved from United Services Portsmouth, amongst their replacements.

'We are expecting a cracking derby,' said McRoberts.