Cov v Cambridge and THAT poll…
Some things are gonna come easy
Some things are gonna be hard
But don’t let them put you off your stride
Cos you could make your mark
Some times you gotta be smarter
You’ve got to play to win the game
Don’t let them make you give up
Right before you can begin
Joan Armatrading – Prove Yourself
I guess the best news to come out of yesterday’s announcement of the team to face Cambridge on Saturday is the inclusion of Olly Pavoas. His quick recovery from what looked initially to be a potentially serious injury is especially welcome news.
Olly has had a wretched two or three months with injuries, so here’s hoping he not only gets through the game tomorrow unscathed, but also puts in a performance that will provide some further selection headaches for the coaches once Eoghan Grace is back in the reckoning (together with Sam Harry and Ali Bone of course).
The inclusion of Tom Jubb in the second row probably gives the front 5 a little more mobility around the pitch and suggests that Rowland Winter is expecting the team to play a more attacking game than against either Blaydon or Ampthill. Tom Poole probably offers a slightly more physical presence in the scrum whilst Tom J provides greater options in open play.
His presence together with a back row that is going to be quicker to the breakdown should result in better ball retention, quicker distribution and a great chance of turning over Cambridge possession. The opposition are very much a known entity, with RW and Brendon Burke so familiar with the Cambridge set up and the majority of their squad. They will have selected a side best suited to negate their strengths as well as enable us to capitalise on any known weaknesses they might have.
Whilst there are clearly some supporters who would prefer to avoid the use of Wasps Academy players as a ‘quick fix’, I have to say the thought of watching Jack Willis and Owain James in a Coventry shirt is one I personally relish – and for a couple of reasons.
First, these are players who are going to go on and have very successful careers in the game and to have watched them play at such a formative period in their development is something for which I am extremely grateful.
And playing in a Cov shirt as well!
As to it being a quick fix, well actually I see it as quite the reverse.
Had the Academy players only turned out for the two or three games prior to returning to Wasps for the Anglo-Welsh Cup games, never to return, well maybe that might be true. However, there is every chance that they will be available for many more games and become regular members of the squad both on match days and during the week at training sessions.
More importantly, they bring with them a closer link to the Premiership club itself, a link the importance of which should not be understated. The announcement that Dan Baugh has already worked with the club and in particular with James Pritchard,
to maximise (players) recovery between match day and our first session of the week on a Monday morning, and also help(ing) us tweak areas of our training schedule so that we can see more benefits from our off pitch provision
can surely only be a good thing? And whilst the involvement of Wasps’ coaching expertise might be no more than a case of individuals ‘guesting’ at the moment, it is hopefully the beginning of something more permanent and is very much a longer term partnership as opposed to that shorter term quick fix.
It might go against the grain for some, but if the club is to compete at the next level, that of the Championship, then we are going to want to learn from the best practitioners at a level above even that, the Premiership.
It’s an absolute no brainer to me.
Do we want to retain our own independence?
Absolutely we do…
But do we also want to use the arrival of Wasps to the city of Coventry to our advantage?
Well, yes…I think the answer has to be in the affirmative to that, too.
The link with Wasps is very much a two way process as well, with Coventry in return loaning out the likes of Sam Harry and Ali Bone to Wasps for their A team fixtures, something which also benefits both the players themselves and, in the longer term, the club too.
Craig Newby’s involvement is equally welcome and equally hard to argue against, given he is looking to work with our coaches to strengthen our defence. It makes absolute sense to involve the expertise of premiership teams and if they’ll loan us a few of their players as well, thank you very much.
Having said all that, it is good to see that Rob Knox is still in the side and out on the wing, too. Whether he is being given the chance over Tome Howe, or whether Tom is injured, is unclear.
For me, though, in the last few games Rob has played he’s been increasingly involved and other than James Stokes, he’s looked our biggest threat in attack. And whilst Rob might be older and more experienced than Owain James, working alongside someone who clearly is already one of the best wings in our league is going to help Rob develop as a player, both in attack and in defence.
Rob deserves a run in the team now; at least that’s what I’d like to see – knowing he’s on the team sheet for the next few games is going to give him the confidence to do more than just play safe and I’ve always felt that when Rob is playing with a license to express himself in attack, as James Stokes does, he’s at his most dangerous.
And talking of James Stokes…how on earth does he manage to recovery so quickly from the knocks he invariably takes during the course of the game, and the cumulative effects of those sustained week in week out? There’s no half measures with him and last week when he limped off, it looked like it might be a few weeks before we’d see him again.
Not for the first time this season, he’s bounced straight back and it goes without saying that we’re stronger with him in the side than without and, rather than that being a slight on whoever might have taken his place, it’s just a comment on the ability of the player himself.
We’ve had some decent 15s at Coventry in recent times, but it’s hard to think of anyone better (ironically, one of the better ones is on the bench tomorrow!).
From a supporter’s viewpoint, I’m rather hoping Coventry look to beat Cambridge at their own game tomorrow with a more expansive, high tempo game in which the forwards retain plenty of possession, go through a number of phases, drive Cambridge back and ultimately release the backs to deliver the knock out blows.
With Boris starting again, hopefully Coventry can quickly exert what is fast becoming an expected dominance in the set piece and if we can win the number of penalties resulting from scrums that we have in many of the games we’ve played this season, there’s every chance we can play the game in the Cambridge half far more than we did against Ampthill.
There are some real ball carriers in the forwards out there tomorrow and the likes of Scott Tolmie, Tom Jubb, Jack Willis, Olly Povoas and Darrel Dyer all like to be on the end of the odd offload and they have the pace and/or strength to turn defences if that is the case. Once we break through the gain line, the opposition are on the back foot and that’s where Knox, James, Stokes, Hircock et al. are so very dangerous and with Pete White looking to snipe round the base of the scrum and from quick taps, there’s plenty of reason for optimism.
However, Cambridge, despite their poor away record (although to be honest it’s no worse than ours!), are more than capable of causing an upset should we be slow off the mark, as we have been in a couple of games this season.
The fact that many of the players on both teams know each other well means they’ll be itching to make a statement, one way or another. It adds a little frisson to the game and if the nerves get the better of one or both teams, it could end up anything but the expansive game that most are hoping for. If it comes down to experience, then Coventry should have the edge, as they probably do in terms of simple ability on a player to player basis, but when has that ever been a guarantee of success?
Cambridge will definitely be fired up for this one and if they can get into the faces of the Coventry team and harry and hassle them into making mistakes, then it could yet be a long afternoon for the home side.
That said, I’m confident that at home, and after 4 wins in the last 5 outings, Cov have enough in the bank to win tomorrow.
Jeez, I hope I’m right…
I’ve been umming and ahhing a little as to whether or not to continue with yesterday’s poll, given the adverse comment it received on the Messageboard yesterday.
However, the fact that so many people have taken part, more than for any previous poll bar one (and given there are a couple of days left it seems likely it will overtake that one), it can’t have inflamed too many readers of the blog.
Choosing your own ‘fantasy’ (the clue is in the word) squad from the last two seasons as a supporter isn’t that far removed from being involved in a fantasy football league, or picking your best Cov side from the period we’ve been in National 2. I’m sure the players are used to supporters making judgements about them (or just being opinionated at times…a reference to myself, I hasten to add); it goes with the territory.
And if a simple poll such as this is enough to ‘damage their confidence’…
One or two people I spoke to yesterday evening said that it made them realise just how difficult it is to get the right balance of players, even when just selecting from a bank of just 50 or so…imagine what it is like starting from scratch with a field of possibly hundreds of players to chose from..?
It was meant to be an interesting exercise to spend 5 minutes on with a cup of tea and a chocolate Hobnob (although purists might opt for a plain digestive).
Anyway, the poll has another two days to run…if you missed out on voting yesterday, here’s what the fuss is all about.
The poll will close Sunday evening.
From yesterday’s post…
As there was a lot of unease at the loss of so many players last year, I’m just interested to see if in retrospect there is broad agreement amongst those who read the blog that the coaches got the recruitment pretty much spot on, or is there a feeling that we could have done with retaining rather more than just the 5 from last season.
All projects need to be reviewed by stakeholders every now and again.
This is one such evaluation. It’s not meant to imply criticism one way or another…
I’ve tried to keep the numbers similar to the squad this year, so you will be able to choose:
- 5 props (Stankovich already included)
- 2 hookers
- 3 second rowers (Snyman already selected )
- 6 back rowers
- 3 half backs
- 4 centres (Burke already selected)
- 4 wings/full backs (Pritchard already included)
for a total playing squad of 31 players in all…players from either the Development Squad or Wasps’ Academy might be called upon to supplement positions where there are injuries or a loss of form, as has been the case already, but they have not been included in the full squad.
You might wish to look at which players can double up over a range of starting positions and which players are just specific to one.
In short, have you got the right balance…?
Entering your choices couldn’t be easier, just click against the name in the appropriate place and then click ‘Vote’. The software will only allow you to have one completed vote in each category, so please ensure you are happy with your decisions before hitting that ‘Vote’ button.
Some general points:
- Any dual reg players from last year haven’t been included as they were all attached to a mother club and therefore not available;
- A couple of positions have little choice as at the end of last season Coventry relied on dual reg players in these areas;
- Only players who were still at Coventry at the end of last season have been included, so Courtney Roberts and Tom Preece aren’t involved because they had left the club well before April;
- Sam Smith is included because he was in last year’s squad, even though he’s only in the developmental squad this year;
- I have included a blank space to type the name of a player should I have left somebody out of the list who ought to be included. Just type in the name;
- The computer generates the order the players appear in, not me!
- Players like Cliffie Hodgson, ones capable of playing in two or three positions, I’ve included in what I regard to be their best one, rather than include them in all of them. When selecting your squad you might want to look at cover for key positions when choosing a particular player.
The Fantasy Squad 2016/17.
For instructions please see above…the number of choice that can be made in each position is indicated in brackets.
(If you voted yesterday, the software won’t allow you to vote again…)
Not sure anyone will have managed to read as far down as this, but if you have, then here’s a real treat for…
Joan Armatrading – Prove Yourself