Day 10 of the Coventry’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) 2017 poll results and this time it is 3rd place that is up for grabs.
And you voted for:
From fifth in the MVP poll last season to third this and following on from Will Maisey yesterday, Scott is now only the second player from last season to be included in this year’s poll.
And that is significant because it illustrates a) the quality of the players brought in over the summer and b) just what a good player Scott is to feature so highly amongst players with so much experience and ability, coming in ahead as he does of the likes of Luke Narraway, Latu Makaafi and Sam Tuitupou.
No mean achievement that.
However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Scott this campaign, especially around the time when he was dropped for the Esher game (Game 5) and was instead selected to play in the Development side that weekend. I’m not even sure that at the time most spectators realised that Scott had been officially dropped that day as Gabriel Oghre replaced him and I think the general feeling was that the young Wasps’ hooker had been on the fringes for a few games and it was a simple question of rotation and no more than that – after all, it’s not uncommon for Rowland Winter to make the odd change just to give players a chance to recover physically whilst allowing others to get some much needed game time.
Scott on the charge…
In fact, that was very much how I’d viewed it until Scott came over to chat to a few supporters after the Fylde game which was Game 7. If Rowland Winter had been hoping for a response from Scott, well he certainly got one. Scott was clearly still affected by the demotion ( something he described to John Wilkinson as being ‘a body blow’) whilst also accepting it was absolutely the right decision to make.
It had clearly reminded him that no one’s place is a given in this squad.
He admitted that he :
…wasn’t too thrilled at being dropped and having to play with the development boys, but at the same time when I was told I thought I could either let it affect me and knock my confidence even more, or I could enjoy the leadership role I had that week with the younger boys and try to enjoy the game a bit more and get some fun back.
I think in a way a kick up the backside was what I needed. I didn’t feel I was particularly playing badly enough to not be in the squad completely, but it gave me more game time that I hadn’t massively had in the first month and that helped as well
As a coach I would imagine that’s exactly the reaction that you’d be looking for and since then Scott has been magnificent and looks back to the form he was showing when at his best last season. When Scott spoke to us I was really impressed with his honestly and his willingness to accept his own weaknesses. Rowland Winter has talked about how the coaches have required players to be more self- analytical than perhaps had been expected of them elsewhere and listening to Scott that day it was clear he was very introspective about his own performances.
As he has said in the past:
I think that probably comes from being a lot more professional in everything that we do, our analysis and how we train, and bringing in Nick Walshe and Louis Deacon full time this year and someone like Luke Narraway has helped from a coaching point of view.
Having people come in from a higher level just helps, and we as players have bought into that massively and everyone’s on the same page.
Whilst it’s just one anecdote, I do think it shows the character of the player to bounce back in the way he has.
Scott comes across as very grounded and whenever he is interviewed for the website he comes across more as a coach rather than as a player, especially now he’s in his second season here. As recently as the end of November, he remarked:
…the supporters are talking about records and keeping the run going but…while obviously it’s good to have, I don’t really think about it very much…we won but let’s park that, improve on the things that didn’t go right, we’re not perfect each week, and as long as we keep working on the things we need to work on the results take care of themselves
We know that if we don’t keep improving week on week, then losses will come – although hopefully they won’t – but if they do, as long as we can bounce back straight away we’ll be okay…
I don’t think as a squad we’re too worried about anyone else, we’ve just got to keep focusing on what we can do and at the end of the day, if we win it doesn’t matter what anyone else does. We’ll just keep building and building.
If you didn’t know, in many respects that could be Rowland Winter talking, with little there about himself and the focus being very much on the team. A future coach in the making, perhaps…?
There’s no doubt that Rowland Winter rates Scott highly and I don’t think it’s betraying any trust to say that Cov’s Director of Rugby believes Scott has it in him to be the best hooker in the Championship if he adds a bit more physicality to his game and his fitness levels increase and that’s not the kind of praise RW heaps on his players too often.
Ever since I’ve been watching Cov, supporters have always warmed to players who want to play expansive, attacking rugby and who want to take the game to the opposition, which probably explains why Scott is so popular. I’m not knowledgeable enough to know how good a technical player Scott is; clearly good enough to hold his place in the side obviously but beyond that, well the mysteries of the front row remain just that to me, a mystery.
What made Matt Price so popular was that he was the epitome of the much vaunted Covdog, with the willingness to face any situation head-on and wearing his heart very much on his sleeve. Whatever limitations Matt might have had, he would more than make up for them with his pride and passion for the shirt he wore. If you were in the trenches and about to lead your men over the top, you’d want Matt there by your side.
Scott doesn’t have that same bulldog approach, but he is does offer a more athletic, slightly less physical option and one that has proved incredibly effective over the last two seasons. Matt would be in the faces of the opposition, always happy to meet fire with fire, the kind of approach that probably isn’t Scott’s forte. Phil Nilsen looks to be similar to Matt in that respect which seems to work well, with Rowland Winter having different options open to him depending on the opposition.
Scott played all his rugby before the age of 18 in Australia and he freely admits scrummaging over there is more a case of how quickly you can get the ball out, rather than the more technical contest it is over here and, as a result, playing over in England was something of a culture shock. He has had to adapt quickly to the complexities of the scrum over here.
Especially in Australia, the scrum is seen as a restart, get the ball in and out as quickly as possible, whereas here it’s a massive contest, a weapon and a way of getting penalties. I like to get my hands on the ball, but the hard work has to be done first and I’ve learnt to like it – I wouldn’t say I liked it when I first came back, but you can’t play in the forward pack, and especially in the front row, and not enjoy that side of things.
He’s obviously a quick learner… and scrummaging is now something he has come to ‘appreciate and enjoy‘!
There are few more rousing sights than seeing Scott spot the gap and then accelerate through it, often to the surprise of the opposition who clearly aren’t expecting such a turn of speed from a fairly burly looking no 2. And it’s not just that initial burst of pace, either. Scott is well able to sustain it over a much longer distance than one might expect and as we saw against Moseley before Christmas, if he takes the ball at pace a few metres from the try line, well, he’s almost unstoppable.
His mobility is a real weapon in Cov’s armoury at times and he’s not averse to waiting out wide for the ball alongside the backs and if he does puncture that initial hole in the opposition’s defences, there are often runners coming in off his shoulder to take the short pass and cause further havoc.
Scott already has 48 appearances under his belt at Coventry and by my reckoning he’ll be the first player brought in by Rowland Winter to hit the 50 mark, given that Will Maisey is in his second spell with us and is already well over the half century. And a try tally of 19 is a more than respectable total for anyone, especially a hooker, although he is extremely modest about this aspect of his game:
It’s always nice to get over the line, especially with a driving maul. But I’m just fortunate to be the guy at the back who gets to put the ball down, all the hard work comes up front to keep that going and, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who scores the tries.
Yes, he does score some from the base of the driving maul, but you still have to get yourself into the right positions to do that and not all his tries by any means are scored in that way – he must be fairly high up in the list of players making the most metres over the course of a season.
Not always easy putting a good man down…
Scott is another of the players in the current squad with Championship experience, having made 8 starts and a further 29 appearances off the bench for Moseley over the two seasons he was with them in the Championship. And, as you’d expect, he’s not without ambition:
Ultimately, I’d love to play international rugby, that’s obviously the biggest aim, but at the moment I’m just taking each year as it comes and hopefully to get back up to the Championship with Cov and then kick on from there,” he said. “I’m only 23, so I’d like to think that I’ve got a bit of time
…and eventually he’d like to return to Australia to play Super Rugby should the breaks come.
Hopefully, another go in the Championship isn’t too far away for Scott and you’d put money on him making a better success of it this time round with Cov…
Only two more places to be decided now and a whole host of players whose names have not yet appeared – Trimble, Higgins, White, Neal, Jubb, Fenner, Gray, Jeannot, Stokes, Palmer, Poole, Daynes, Knox, Titchard-Jones, Nilsen, Brown, Preece, Litchfield, Grove, Brazier, Asiedu…
There really are going to be some exceptional players not making the final 12 this year…
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)
Day 5 – Sam Tuitupou (8th)
Day 6 – Latu Makaafi (7th)
Day 7 – Nile Dacres (6th)
Day 8 – Luke Narraway (5th)
Day 9 – Will Maisey (4th)
Day 10 – Scott Tolmie (3rd)