Coach Andy Pratt says beleagured Canterbury Rugby Club need to put any thought of a promotion push to one side and focus on getting their National 2 South season back on track.
The city club have had a difficult start to the season. Four tough fixtures – three of them away trips which traditionally cause them problems – have left them in the bottom six, while they suffered a fresh injury blow with the news that Kiwi flanker Brook Cowan is set to miss the season with an anterior cruciate ligament, similar to the one which has already ruled wing Kwaku Asiedu out for the campaign.
Pratt admitted: “It’s another blow for us. We’d hoped it was only a week or two. The symptoms weren’t as bad as with Kwaku but he’s had a scan and it’s confirmed it.
“We have lost some players but the problem is as much the disruption that has caused, as a loss of quality. We are missing players with experience of playing, not just together but at this level.”
He added: “It has been a difficult start, three of the four games away from home against teams who are right up there.
“It doesn’t ease up. It’s going to get tougher in the first half of the season with a lot more away games.”
The latest defeat came at Taunton Titans on Saturday and Pratt admitted: “We came across a good team, playing a good brand of rugby that is a credit to the league.
“It was still a disappointing performance and we did not give a good account of ourselves but it was a good barometer for us.
“I know all our guys are capable National 2 players, some are just not up to speed yet. We have got to develop these players.”
With Canterbury claiming a top-four finish last year, hopes were high for a challenge at a historic top-three spot this term but Pratt said: “Right now we need to put expectations to one side and start getting the basics right.
“I am not going to panic. I trust my players. We need to show some humility, we’ve all made mistakes, me included.”
Bishop’s Stortford – one of two teams to beat Canterbury at home last year – visit Merton Lane on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).