Club talk

Cov Squad 2017/18 – the gaps, the guesses…Rob Knox…Cov’s best signing so far…?

Just my imagination once again runnin’ way with me.
Tell you it was just my imagination runnin’ away with me.
no, no, no, no, no, no, no, can’t forget (them)
Just my imagination once again runnin’ way with me.
Tell you it was just my imagination runnin’ away with me.

The Temptations – Just My Imagination

Next season’s squad looks to be shaping up pretty well.

22 players already – enough for a match day squad and two travelling reserves.

A pure guess on my part here, but I reckon there’s probably another 8 or 9 players still to be announced.

That’s said, it’s pretty clear who a couple of them are from what we’ve read recently on the official website; Matt Price definitely will be here next season and probably Jake Byrne, too, although until they are officially announced by the club, they remain excluded from the squad list.

It’s always interesting to second guess what is yet to come, so I thought I’d have a quick look at nest season’s squad as it currently stands to see if it’s possible to work out where the gaps are.

This is pure imagination on my part and is probably very different to the way most others might see it all panning out, but nevertheless, here goes…

Okay, then…so how is it all looking as of 22/03/17?

By position the official 2017/18 squad currently is as follows:

Props (4/4) Morely, Litchfield, Boulton, Brown – full complement (but to also probably include Jake Byrne)

Hookers (1/3) Scott Tolmie (Jack Preece can play hooker if required) – 2 short (but also to probably include Matt Price)

Second Rows (2/4) Tom Jubb, Nile Dacres,  – 2 short

Back Row (4/6) Jack Preece, Latu Makaafi, Brett Daynes, Olly Povoas – 2 short

Scrum Halves (1/2) Pete White – 1 short

Fly Halves (2/2) Tony Fenner, Will Maisey – full complement

Centres (3/4) Tom Wheatcroft, Alex Grove, Heath Stevens – 1 short

Wings (3/4) Max Trimble, Rob Knox, James Neal – 1 short

Full back (2/2) James Stokes, Cliffie Hodgson – full complement

So where are the gaps…?

Well, going on the numbers brought in by position last season, we started with

  • 4 Props
  • 2 Hookers
  • 4 Second Rows
  • 6 Back Rows
  • 3 Scrum Halves
  • 5 Centres
  • 3 Wings
  • 3 Fullbacks

However, coaches James Pritchard and Brendan Burke were included at fullback and centre respectively, skewing the numbers somewhat, so I have reduced the total needed in each of those positions this season to 2 and 4 and added and extra winger as we have struggled in this area particularly since September.

We also had 3 scrum halves early on following Pete White’s recuperation from surgery, so I’m only opting for 2 this time around.

I’ve gone for 3 hookers because it looks as if Matt Orice will play less next season and concentrate more on his community/outreach/academy work.

So eight, maybe nine, players still to come in by my reckoning, with still some of the current squad to be confirmed as either leaving or staying.

As far as I can recall, we still don’t have any official news about the following:

  • Price
  • Byrne
  • Poole
  • Dyer
  • Harry
  • Grasso
  • Hircock

Matt Price and Jake Byrne, who was recently appointed to the full squad, I’ve already covered.

Still, some big names to ponder.

I think Sam Grasso is intending to return to Australia for the beginning of their season, or at least that was the original plan, leaving Harry, Hircock, Dyer and Poole.

Looking at the back rowers, I still think we are at least one and possibly two experienced players short, so for that reason I think Sam Harry might not stay. Well as he has played this season, and I do think he has stepped into some big games and done himself plenty of credit, we are in need of another No 8 and another 6 if Dyer leaves. With Olly Povoas already included, two young and experienced players in the back row might be something of a luxury, especially if we can call upon Wasps or Leicester to supply another loanee or two very much in the Jack Willis mould.

There will be plenty of interest in Sam Harry from clubs in National One certainly, I’m just not convinced his time is now. Presuming Coventry will want to push for a top three spot at least nest season, maybe a little more experience in the back row is required, even after the acquisition of Preece and Makaafi.

Corey Hircock has been the utility player whom the coaches have turned to when injury or a loss of form have created gaps that can’t be filled in their own right. Corey has done a good job both out wide and in midfield, but would he be an automatic first choice in his own right in either position? Always a useful player to have, but with Grove, Wheatcroft, Stevens and Knox all above him in the pecking order, is Corey Hircock likely to get much game time? Should he be playing regularly elsewhere?

Tough questions probably requiring even tougher answers.

Which leaves Darrel Dyer and Tom Poole.

As far back as early November, I wondered whether we’d see Darrel back here next season. In one of those revealing interviews with John Wilkinson, Darrel made it clear that he was ambitious and that if the right offer came along, he would be more than tempted to move on…

And he’s had a pretty decent season and is bound to have attracted the attention of one or two clubs which are compatible with his own ambitions, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Darrel is holding out for a better offer, as he might see it, from elsewhere

I would say the majority of the boys here want to go into the Premiership – and for me, it’s still chasing the dream, that’s where I want to be.

But it’s one step at a time and I’m happy to be here building towards the future. If a really good opportunity came from somewhere else which I thought would enhance my rugby and development, I’d seriously consider that, but for now I’ll be training and working hard to take a few steps forward with Coventry and going back into the Championship with them would be a good scenario

In my book there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being upfront and honest as he was then and provided he always gives of his best when playing for Cov, then he has every right to want to achieve such goals provided it is done in the best interests of all parties. He’s proved himself to be popular with supporters as MoM polls and the MVP poll have shown and, whilst I’m not altogether sure he has been as good at No 8 as he has at 6, he’s been a key member of the squad and if he does move on, then he’ll be a loss, certainly.

However, no player is irreplaceable so we’ll have to wait to see if who comes in if he does, indeed, decide he wants to move on, and the club are prepared to let him go.

Which leaves Tom Poole.

For me, Tom Poole has come into his own in the second half of the season, following the enforced departure of Brendon Snyman and the club’s  decision to release Rob Conquest.

I’m a big fan of Tom’s. He’s definitely a WYSIWYG sort of player…no thrills, nothing over elaborate, just a good, honest, hardworking player who brings to the pack a real sense of physicality, as we saw in some of his tackles against Ampthill in the last home game. Tom seems very much a team player, he’s not demonstrative or showy on the pitch, but boy is he a worker and although he’s not going to be a line breaker or a ball carrier in the same way as Tom Jubb or even Niles Dacres are, he’s a powerhouse in the rucks and mauls and someone who will always give of his best.

Tough call as to whether Tom returns next season…I guess it depends very much on what the coaches are looking for. He’s a Cov man and I’d have him back for sure, but the coaches might have another option up their sleeves.

As I said at the start…

It’s just my imagination, running away with me…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Will-he, won’t-he?

Well, finally, it became he will…

I think there’s been more speculation surrounding the retention or otherwise of Rob Knox than any other player this season, so it good that it’s now been finally been put to bed with the announcement that Rob is committing himself to Coventry for another season.

Even a season hampered by injuries or recovery from injuries, Rob has managed to score 7 (I think) tries in just 10 starts and 16 appearances in all, putting him third highest try scorer in the club this season. In the games he’s played, whether in the centre or out wide, Rob has shown what a destructive runner he can be and often his tries are far more than just a simple run in. He combines strength and speed, a lethal combination at any level and in some of the more recent games he’s looked a far more confident player, prepared to take on defences seemingly without too much worry about injury any more.

I would hazard a guess that part of this is due to the emphasis the club has placed this season on his  conditioning, recuperation and physiotherapy. Rob has been handled sparingly and has never been rushed into a return and, whilst I’m sure it has been frustrating for Rob, especially with the switch from centre to wing and back to centre again, he is certainly looking an altogether more lively, happy player than he did at any time last season.

If his close season is used productively to ensure he returns next season approaching something like full fitness, he could become an instrumental player in a back line that looks as exciting as I can remember in the last 7 or 8 seasons, even including Dan Rundle and Will Hurrell. Individually, no ones going to compete with Will but, collectively, this looks like a set of three quarters that is capably of taking the league by storm once Hartpury has moved on.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, who’s your best signing/re-signing for the 2017/18 season?

There are plenty of names from which to choose…Preece, Grove or Makkafi perhaps. Or retaining the services of Litchfield, Boulton or Knox.

All very strong candidates.

But not my choice.

It’s Boris for me.

Every time.

The significance of the news that Boris will be with Coventry for next season can’t really be overstated.

Coventry’s strength this season has, for me, been very much in the dominance of the forwards in most all og the games.

Okay, at times the backs have been able to cut lose and yes, we’ve scored the second highest number of points in the league so far, but much of this is down to the fact that the forwards have been able to provide them with such a solid platform. The scrum has been pretty much the immoveable object, winning penalties time and time again, and providing the ball for the backs to strut their stuff.

And at the heart of the forwards’ success on the pitch this season is the work that Boris has done with the them off it. As if there wasn’t enough evidence of his influence on the pitch, you only have to listen to the players to get a feel for the impact that he has had.

To have retained the same front row, working with Boris again for another 12 months, is so important to the potential  success of the club next year and the likes of Litchfield, Brown and Boulton are only going to get better technically in the set pieces, especially the scrum.

Phil Boulton made the interesting observation a couple of weeks ago regarding the opportunities being afforded to young Jake Byrne following injuries to Andy Brown and Boris himself:

………………………………………………………………………..This isn’t a bad breeding ground for Jake – having Boris telling him what to do is just fantastic. I wish I’d had Boris when I was 19 or 20, coaching the under-20s with Warwickshire!

The Boris factor has been massive all season and will continue to be so next.

Coventry’s best signing for the 2017/18 season so far…?

Boris Stankovich.

Must be in the running, surely?

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Toss up between The Cranberries song of the same title and this offering from The Temptations…

Wouldn’t have left the room in one piece had I not chosen this…

Sue’s a bit of a fan…

6 replies »

  1. I hope tom poole knows how much he is appreciated and stays another year. he’s been outstanding since xmas. also like to see dyer stay but I fh e has a better offer in championship then all the best to him or anyone else.
    for m ewe still need a streetsmart, solid and mobile second row and no 8 .

    Like

    • Hi Toner…totally agree about Tom Poole…whether or not he’ll settle for a second or even third string role if another player is brought in is open to question but he’ll always do a job, and a good one at that. Another 8 is a good shout as ot frees Latu up to play elsewhere in the back row.

      Like

  2. I think that the most IMPORTANT signings for next season will be the amount of people buying a season ticket. Given the CCFC cloud I hope fans commit to the club (CRFC). Agree with what you say Tim about Boris. I was glad I asked the question at Fylde about his position. But the search must start early for a very able replacement. Must take this opportunity to than Jon Sharp for his quick and thoughtful comments about ground share. I hope fans continue to support CRFC at this time and make judgments when more facts are known.

    Like

    • Hi Mick…it will certainly be interesting to see how supporters respond…I think there will be an increased uptake on season tickets despite the City debacle. There’s a belief shared by many that things have improved…and the signings generally look to be strengthening an already strong squad

      Fingers crossed.

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  3. Hi Tim, I absolutely endorse your comments about Boris. It’s extraordinary how he has revolutionised the impact of the scrum this season. His contribution has been immense. It’s pretty clear that he’ll move on at the end of next season, and whichever club he goes to is guaranteed to benefit enormously.
    In your musings about the squad list, I think you’ve forgotten Freddie Tuialagi? I heard at the Ampthill game that Leicester have released him and he’s made a commitment to Cov. Or am I wrong? In the last couple of games he’s played for us (Hull and Ampthill) I have been impressed with how much he has improved from a very indifferent first appearance. I think he offers considerable strength to the back row.

    Like

    • Hi Cliff…I know Freddie has been mentioned elsewhere but had avoided including him as it isn’t common knowledge…at least I didn’t think it was!!! 😂 he’d certainly be a bug asset in the backrow. Hope all is well…am currently replying to your comment from the canteen of the Heartlands. And what a depressing place it us, too

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