Dudley keen to lead Portsmouth out of losing habit

Luke Richardson
Luke Richardson
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NEW Portsmouth coach Ben Dudley is excited about his first home game at the helm as Winchester visit 
Rugby Camp in London two south west (2pm).

Dudley, who lives in the city, was appointed at the start of the summer in a bid to revive the fortunes of the club.

The 35-year-old has only recently retired from playing after spending 13 years with National League outfit Worthing.

He has an excellent pedigree of playing high-class rugby at a level Portsmouth aspire to move closer to.

Dudley is keen to build on the work of previous coach – long-standing servant Ian Chandler – and is looking to freshen things up a little to avoid the relegation struggles experienced over the past two seasons.

‘I feel I have been brought in to introduce a fresh approach with new ideas and ways to do things,’ said Dudley.

‘Ian Chandler did a fantastic job under difficult circumstances.

‘We are now aiming to progress things along by looking at things slightly differently.

‘Historically, Portsmouth have lost a lot of games in recent years and have under-achieved.

‘Losing, like winning, can become a habit and that is one we are looking to break.

‘We have not gone on a major recruitment drive because we already have a lot of capable players at the club.’

Although Portsmouth began their league campaign with a 32-26 defeat at Warlingham, Dudley felt there were positives to be taken from the game.

The hosts finished in the top four last season and were unbeaten at home.

Portsmouth pushed them all the way and at the end the players felt it was a game they could easily have won.

They came away with two vital bonus-points, which was fully deserved after the performance they put in.

‘We showed a lot of character, particularly in the final 20 minutes when we put them under a lot of pressure,’ added Dudley.

‘Our forwards looked a strong unit and we had plenty of pace on our wings.

‘I am looking for us to take that performance forward against Winchester, who are expected to be challenging at the top.

‘Whatever the result, the main thing I am looking at is the way we perform.

‘If we can improve each time then the wins will come.’

The Rugby Camp outfit make a few changes from the team that did well at Warlingham.

As part of squad rotation, Luke Richardson comes in for Anthony Fookes in the forwards.

The home side have a few players making their competitive debuts in the three-quarters.

Locks Heath Pumas pair Stuart Forbes and Tom Chance appear for the first time at wing and centre.

Ex-St Ives back Josh Palmer makes his debut on the other wing, with Curtis Barnes moving to full-back.

Portsmouth: Curtis Barnes, Stuart Forbes, Tom Chance,

Luke Simmons, Josh Palmer, SimoN Morgan, Danny Holbrook,

Ben Cuming, Greg Hoolihan, Chris Nicholls, Darren Leggott,

Darren Crabbe, Luke Richardson, Jackson Clarke, Damien Gibbs (capt). Replacements: Anthony Fookes, Ryan Wilkie, Danny Harris