Portsmouth target improvements as Pearce sets out plan

Suli Caucau. Picture: Neil Marshall
Suli Caucau. Picture: Neil Marshall
Gosport & Fareham head coach Barry Bridgman. Picture: Neil Marshall (161436-4)

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PORTSMOUTH begin life in London three south west with a visit to newly promoted Old Emanuel on Saturday (3pm).

After being relegated last season it is chance for the south-coast team to make a fresh start.

If they can make a positive start it will see them start to put the disappointment of the drop behind them.

Director of rugby Jim Pearce insists the long-term aim is a return to the higher leagues.

He has moved up from his coaching role.

Senior coach Ben Dudley left the club during the summer due to increasing work commitments.

Now Pearce has appointed a team of coaches to plot a successful season.

Jason Ford and James Henriet (forwards), Matt Farnes and Dave Duffus (backs) and Rupert Neville (skills) will share the coaching duties.

They will be assisted by Portsmouth University’s Gemma Milligan who will oversee the strength and conditioning of the squad.

Pearce is happy to see the players have remained with the club.

He said: ‘The biggest thing for us that we have retained all our players from last season.

‘Though we didn’t actively go out and recruit new players we have also had a couple join us through natural migration.

‘We have had three very good pre-season performances which is encouraging.

‘At times last season we suffered from inconsistency and a lack of cohesion.

‘Obviously these are areas where we hope to improve.

‘The biggest emphasis is on the players enjoying their rugby and buying in to what we are trying to do.

‘If the players support and work for each other then that is half the battle won.

‘That is a mental thing as much as a physical one.

‘We are setting ourselves little targets to start with and hope these can lead to bigger things further down the road this season.’

Portsmouth give a senior debut to inside centre Suli Caucau who arrived near the end of last season.

The Fijian moved into the area with his wife who works in the Royal Navy.

Wing-forward Will Brock and winger Mark Ovens also return to action after spells away.

Brock has been at Richmond for a couple of years while Ovens missed the whole of last season with a shoulder injury.

Luke Peters and Jackson Clarke are ruled out by injury with Luke Richardson, Curtis Barnes and Rhys Bowen also unavailable.