Day 4 of the Coventry’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) 2017 poll results and this time it’s 9th place that’s up for grabs.
And you voted for:
The word ‘workhorse’ is an oft over-used one, usually referring to someone who is dependable and who works hard work over a long period of time.
I’ve seen it written of George on more than just an isolated occasion, but given his form this season, it is somewhat dismissive of the real impetus he gives the team, whether making the hard yards through short pick up and drives or getting stuck in defensively whenever required.
I think it’s fair to say that in the area I sit in the main stand, the consensus is that of all the signings over the summer, George has probably been the one that has stood out the most in that he came with less of reputation than the likes of Narraway, Tuitupou, Nilsen, Makaafi and Preece, yet his form has been as consistent as anyone’s and his influence probably greater than most might have expected. We knew what we’d get from them; less so from George.
His pairing with Nile Dacres is, without doubt, the strongest in the whole of National One and if both players remain at Cov next season, it will be interesting to see how they fare against Championship opposition should we gain the promotion that looks increasingly likely now.
Not too out of place would be my guess.
With Tom Poole and Tom Jubb doing such a good job at the back end of last season, it wasn’t clear where George would fit in. Realistically, Nile was always going to be first choice amongst the second rowers, but George and the two Toms all had their own case to make as to who it should be pairing up with him.
As it was, both George and Tom Jubb were injured pre-season, leaving Tom Poole and Cameron Gray (another outstanding prospect), to fight it out for the one remaining spot before Tom P was injured, too.
Since his initial selection George Oram hasn’t looked back, making 11 starts in all:
Apologies for having included this next bit elsewhere, but it is relevant to the post…
…although I’d watched Moseley in the December of last year, a game in which I think George played, I really noticed him for the first time when he represented England Counties against Scotland in the February of this year.
Sam and I had been standing on the touchline at Billesley taking a few photos and watching the players warm-up when Rowland Winter ghosted in from nowhere and said it might be worth my while focusing in on the second row pairing of Dacres and Oram. He didn’t really anything else before walking off with a grin on his face – he didn’t need too, the message was clear.
Naturally, we’d gone along to give support to the Coventry lads, all five of them, who had been selected to play for England, but suddenly the focus shifted somewhat and it was to Oram, Dacres and Preece (whose signing for Cov was already widely known at that stage) to whom our attention turned.
And all three had standout games…Preece was arguably the best player on the pitch, with Oram (and Dacres) not too far behind. From that moment on we knew that a good Coventry pack would, over the summer, become an exceptional one such was their influence on the game that day.
Oram was a revelation, constantly picking up the ball and driving forward and forever supporting players around him. We knew then that he was going to be something special…
And here’s the thing, he’s still only 24 but he’s already had a season in the Championship with Rotherham as a 21 years old, making 16 appearances before moving to Moseley where he made another 30 appearances last season before joining Cov.
He’s got plenty of experience behind him and that could be important if and when the pressure mounts as the season wears on.
On the announcement that George was to join Cov, Rowland Winter suggested that he would:
…add more size and physicality to our pack…he has a great skill set, he works hard around the pitch and we have been really impressed with his form this season
which is exactly as it’s been. Much as I really respect Tom Poole, he’ll find it difficult to break back into the team whilst George and Niles are showing the kind of form we are currently seeing from the both of them.
In many respects, Tom P and George are similar sorts of players, both big and strong and offering that extra physicality that maybe we don’t see in Tom Jubb or even Cameron Gray, although neither have their athleticism. George is very consistent in the set piece and probably offers more offensive options that Tom, although Tom P is immense in defence.
Is it just me, or does George O look like he belongs in the highland games, kilted and wearing the obligatory white t-shirt, muscles bulging as he picks up a massive caber in readiness to toss it some record distance…?
Okay, it’s a me thing, then.
To be fair to the Cov coaches though, whilst George Oram might have been something of an unknown quantity to many Cov supporters, he was anything but to Louis Deacon who was the forwards’ coach at Moseley for part of the season whilst George was there too. Bringing George across was a pretty low risk venture in that sense, although if you’d have read the Moseley Messageboard last season, you have wondered why Cov were taking on either of them, such were the scathing remarks directed at the Moseley set piece in general back then…
Now here’s a coincidence…
…in an article written by Paul Smith whilst he was still with The Birmingham Post back in January of this year, speaking some four months after his move to Moseley George Oram stated:
I’m really enjoying life at Moseley…There are plenty of leaders in our squad who have played at a high level for a long time. Guys like Alex Grove and Jack Preece drive standards, and try to bring everyone else up to that level by sharing that experience.
The only two players he mentions in the whole interview with Paul are Alex Grove and Jack Preece…
…and I wonder what became of those two?
And whilst Louis Deacon obviously rated Oram enough to bring him over to Cov, the respect is clearly mutual, with George O quick to single out LD as one of the key reasons for his continued development as a player:
I’ve had to learn a lot about calling a lineout, which is going to serve me well in the future, and most of that is down to Louis. He drives high standards, which is really good. He doesn’t stand and lecture, he wants to know if you’ve got ideas and pushes you to believe in yourself then run with anything you come up with…
Although George was prepared to drop down a level to join Moseley last season, he’s still ambitious and is keen to get back into the Championship if he can:
I’ve always said my aim is to play at the best level of rugby I can, for as long as I can, so if it means I can get back into the Championship and be playing there, I’ll grab it with both hands
Maybe George will get that wish perhaps as season earlier than even he might have hoped and if Cov are to earn promotion this year, then big George’s contribution will have been very significant ones indeed.
As with many players who arrive at Cov from clubs either from National One or above, Oram is full of praise for the supporters, too – which certainly adds to his popularity as far as I’m concerned. Talking to John Wilkinson earlier in the season, George said he was sure that Coventry supporters would play have a major influence in Coventry’s success:
The support is fantastic. The noise they make is incredible – I’ve not been at a club where there’s been as much support.
Seeing the fans there at training on Thursday nights is something I’ve not seen before, and it was incredible to go to Hull on the opening day and outnumber the home fans – that really does make a difference.
Some places you go to it’s difficult because you have to create your own atmosphere, but with our fans it makes it easier.
Nice one, George!
And whilst he clearly has a lot of time for the supporters at Cov, they clearly have a lot of time for him given the results of this poll and I’m really pleased that he has made it into the top 12. His is a name that would be added fairly quickly into my best starting XV and under the guidance of Louis Deacon and Rowland he is only going to get better…
Well done, George.
Current standings – Coventry Rugby Club MVP poll 2017
Day 1 – Anthony Mototo (12th)
Day 2 – Phil Boulton (11th)
Day 3 – Heath Stevens (10th)
Day 4 – George Oram (9th)