It’s the twelfth day of Christmas, so the winner is…
Day 12 and the final day of the ‘Coventry’s Most Valuable Player’ poll results. This time it’s the overall winner who is revealed.
And the most valuable Coventry player, according to readers of this blog, is (to the sound of a dozen drummers drumming):
Well done, James!
I have to say, it was a fairly conclusive win in the end.
The top three were well ahead of the rest, with James Stokes comfortably ahead of those in second and third place.
And whilst one can never predict the outcomes of polls with any degree of confidence, I think it’s fair to say James was always going to feature prominently, given he is such a popular player with the Coventry crowds.
A worthy recipient of the award, following on from last year’s inaugural winner, Jacques Le Roux.
James is a flair player, someone who is capable of turning the course of a game with a moment of brilliance.
And, because he is capable of creating moments of pure magic with his pace and vision, supporters warm to him because he brings an excitement to the game that few others can match.
James has appeared in 12 of the 16 games Cov have played this season, starting in every one. Whilst he has only scored 4 tries, his attacking play has often created chances for others to score, or indeed games to be won.
Remember the injury time win against Plymouth earlier in the season?
Had it not been for his break from deep in defence, and then his combining with Tome Howe, we would not have won the penalty from which Will Maisey kicked the points and the 4 points for the win. Is there another player in the Coventry squad who could have seen the space and then made the break…probably not.
And it’s James’ willingness to run the ball from almost anywhere that makes him such an exciting player to watch. Importantly, I can’t actually recall him putting Coventry under pressure from attempting to attack from deep, something that does tend to happen when it’s attempted elsewhere.
He seldom makes poor decisions in terms of whether to attack or take the more defensive option.
And in the games where James has been been absent, or playing but clearly struggling with injury, Cov’s attacking options have been greatly reduced. With the centres struggling a little to create opportunities of their own, it has been the wings and full back who have been the attacking force in the three quarters – with 26 tries coming from 11, 14 and 15 and just 7 tries from 12 and 13.
James contribution can not be understated.
He isn’t particularly tall, but he has frightening acceleration and his willingness to run the ball back from anywhere fits in well with Rowland Winter’s preference to attack wherever possible. His tell-tale shifting of weight from one leg to the other, before wrong footing the defender and easing into open space is in itself a form of artistry.
WHen James Stokes is in full flight there is, indeed, poetry in motion.
In an interview with John Wilkinson on the official website, James made it clear how he likes to play the game:
I’m a full-back, the more running we can do, the better, and that’s how Rowland likes to play – none of this ‘up your jumper’ kind of rugby
He’s clearly relishing the move to Cov as much as the supporters are relishing having him here. He regards leaving Cambridge as a ‘massive’ decision, not just from a rugby point of view either:
I left my full-time job, it was another thing I wasn’t too sure about, but it has allowed me to train full time and put in extra hours which hopefully is going to improve my game. I’m loving it here and hopefully it’s showing on the pitch
At 25, James is one of a number of players who could become so important in Coventry’s long term future. There’s a core of players between 22-28 who, if Cov can keep them together, could become the mainstay of the squad over the next few years. I understand that contract negotiations are on-going at the moment and you’d certainly hope that Coventry would be fighting tooth and nail to keep players of the calibre of James Stokes.
It’s hard to argue with the result of the poll. James is a potential match winner, a player who can turn a game on its head in an instant, a crowd pleaser and someone who is going to put bums on seats…all of which make him a very valuable asset.
Hopefully, having suffered a few injuries problems in the weeks leading up to Christmas, James will be back to something like full fitness once the league fixtures resume a week on Saturday and we’ll see him continue to terrorise defences in the way he has done at times during the course of the first half of the season.
I’ve had a trophy engraved with his name which I’ll drop off at the ground…and I’ll ask James to forward a photo of him with it so that it can be added to a later post.
It’s certainly an award that few would argue with and I’m sure he’ll be pleased to have won it against such strong opposition!!!
Once again, well done, James.
A big thank you to everyone who took part in this, the second ‘Coventry ‘s MVP’ poll. In what is traditionally the quietest time of the season, with no matches and little news coming from the club over the Christmas festivities, I thought it would maintain some interest amongst those who read the blog…
Let’s hope we can kick on over the rest of the season and look to maintain our home form whilst improving on our results away from home. I still think a top four is attainable provided we do a little better on our travels – but there are some testing fixtures ahead – notably Plymouth and Hartpury away.
I’m going to be ‘incommunicado’ for a couple of weeks, so I’d just like to take this opportunity to wish everyone connected with Coventry – players, officials and supporters – all the very best for the next couple of games.
Up the Cov!