Simply restocking…or continuing to improve the quality of goods on display?
I know, I know you must follow the sun
Wherever it leads
If you should fall short of your desires
Remember life holds for you one guarantee
You’ll always have me
Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wild enough
To keep me from you
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Old news this, but the fact that it was reported in The Rugby Paper last weekend shows just how far Cov has come in the last couple of seasons.
Before Rowland Winter’s arrival, as likely as not, four further additions to Cov’s squad as late as the final week in September wouldn’t have warranted column inches in anything other than the local press.
But now we are part of the Championship, there has been a far greater degree of publicity nationally as well as in and around Coventry which can only be a good thing.
Interest in Cov in recent weeks has been raised still further following the promising start the club has made to the Championship campaign, with two wins from five and an impressive performance despite the defeat against Irish last weekend.
The article contained nothing that we didn’t already know, but it is interesting for a couple of reasons.
First, Rowland Winter is mentioned by name in the headline – it’s not Coventry that’s doing the restocking’, it’s Winter.
And that is significant.
A season ago and it would more than likely have been ‘Cov restocks’, with Winter still being something of an unknown to many supporters outside of perhaps National One and below, although of course familiar to those within the game.
Now, however, as the TRP headline clearly demonstrates, his name is synonymous with the club, so there’s absolutely no need to mention Cov in the heading as the assumption is everyone is fully aware of who Rowland Winter is.
His achievements over the last five years, first with Cambridge and now Coventry will have ensured his personal profile is up there with any of the current Championship Directors of Rugby and Head Coaches and I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a fair amount of interest in the Coventry supremo amongst the great and the good in the game just now. His star continues to rise.
How long before we see a profile of RW in the national press and mention of his name as a future Premiership DoR? One or two of us supporters have certainly talked about him in those terms already and RW has made reference to his own ambitions in the past and he seems to have something akin to a Midas touch at the moment.
If this proves to be a successful first season back in the Championship for Cov, then I reckon we’ll see him linked to future roles before too long. Not immediately of course, but in the long-term certainly. Hopefully, a Coventry promotion into the Premiership in the next few years will give him the opportunities he is looking for without necessitating a move, but the more Cov achieve under him, the more interest from outside there will be.
Nick Walshe and Louis Deacon must also be doing their causes no harm at all.
And just as other clubs will be looking with some interest at how Coventry fare this season and beyond, so will other players. The more successful we are, the more we’ll be able to attract players who will come in and strengthen the squad…
Which is why I believe the ‘Winter restocks’ headline to be rather misleading.
Restocking to me suggests a replenishing of supplies, replacing like for like and I’m not so sure at all that is the case.
To be fair, I’ve read elsewhere of supporters referring to the four latest Coventry acquisitions as cover for current injuries, but I don’t see it that way, other than perhaps in the recruitment of Alex Woolford.
Far from it in fact.
Rather than replenishing the squad by bringing in players purely as cover, the coaches have once again added to the quality already here.
I do concede that it looks likely that Alex Woolford has most likely come to Cov as a player on the fringe of the first team squad given Winter himself confirmed pretty much just that on the official website:
Alex is an experienced second row who will be a useful addition to the squad given that we are currently without Nile Dacres and George Oram. His lineout skills are a real strength, and his experience in the Championship and A League will be very valuable.
No argument there…but even he has made 20 plus appearances in the Championship and was also with us back in 2012/13 when he made 4 appearances.
But the situation regarding Daniel Faleafa, Rob Povey and Dan Lewis is very different.
Faleafa is clearly more than a player here to fill a gap. By the sound of it, he’s another Adam Peters, a player who can play across the back row and at lock. He’s had international experience too, more so than Jack Ram or Latu Makaafi interestingly. I can’t believe he’s here just for cover.
And any player whom Rowland Winter is prepared to ‘chuck in‘ (see quote below) is someone who is clearly going to make a pretty big impression whilst he’s here. It doesn’t appear that RW has any qualms about playing him sooner rather than later and his comment hardly suggests its dependent on the fitness of others.
And the YouTube compilation below perhaps hints at the reason why – not much in it to show Faleafa as an attacking force, but he looks a monster defensively (caution: another of those where the sound is best turned right down!):
At 20 and 21 respectively, Rob Povey and Dan Lewis are definitely long-term acquisitions, brought in not just because of what they can offer now, but also for what they might bring to the club in the future. Indeed, Winter appears impressed enough with how they are settling to suggest that:
All the new signings will push for places in the coming weeks…
Robbie Povey and Dan Lewis were exceptional in the A League last night, and between them scored all of Leicester’s points. Robbie created lots of space from full back and in midfield, and is definitely someone who could quickly come into the side.
Alex Woolford is also in full training and looks a top-level set-piece performer, and as soon as Dan Faleafa has dusted off the cobwebs from the jet lag we’ll chuck him straight in.
‘In the coming weeks’ – by which time most of the injured players will have returned.
Rob Povey was involved in the pre-match warm-up against Bedford, something which sneaked under the radar a little – I only knew that because neither Sam or I recognised him and I ended up asking one of the players who he was. Povey, too, has international experience and at such a young age he is definitely as much a player for the future as he is for the present.
Of the four, Dan Faleafa and Rob Povey look to be in poll position to make an appearance in the senior squad and on merit too in the not too distant future, but it looks as if both Dan Lewis and Alex Woolford can’t be ruled out either, with Lewis impressing alongside Povey for Leicester’s A side.
The absence of Dacres and Voss opens the door a little more to AW, but there are till a number of options open to the coaches without including Woolford at the moment.
James Voss’ concussion probably means at least three more weeks on the sidelines, so his absence together with that of Nile Dacres is a bit of a blow. Faleafa definitely strengthens our options at 4 and 5 as well as in the back row, as does George Oram’s timely return. However, Faleafa and Oram, together with Jubb, Cameron Gray and Adam Peters (who came here as a back 5 as I recall – Brett Daynes for the Championship, I imagine) means there are still plenty of choices available.
Tom Jubb has once again grabbed with both hands the opportunity that’s come his way and for me is one of the most consistent players in a Cov shirt this season. In National One he was below Snyman and probably Poole in the pecking order, but for very different reasons neither played as much as we all had hoped and so Jubby made the position very much his own in the second half of last season in particular.
The injuries to Dacres and now Voss mean that he is again playing more than perhaps even he might have expected – I think he’d suffered injuries at the start of each of the last two seasons, so it’s good to see him playing in September for a change!
A particularly pleasing outcome of the season so far, for me anyway, is that both Cameron Gray and Luc Jeannot are both being given chances to play Championship rugby so early in the season.
Both were with Cov last season initially as part of the Academy programme, with Gray spending some time with Wasps and Jeannot getting some valuable game time at Cov in the second half of the season, making 13 appearances in all and starting in three.
Cameron came on for the last few minutes of the Bedford game when the visitors were throwing everything at us deep in our 22 and then came out for the second half of the London Irish game after Voss failed the HIA during half-time. He and Tom Jubb put some real pressure on the Irish lineout and there was never a feeling that Cov were in any way compromised by Voss’ absence which speaks volumes for Gray’s performance in the second half.
Jeannot has been involved in all five match day squads this season, coming off the bench in four of them, again more than he might have expected so early in the season. Like Cameron, Luc has looked at home at this level and I would imagine he’ll be making the starting XV before the season is out. The coaches decision last weekend to include only Tolmie and Jeannot as front rowers on the bench shows the faith they must have in him and he is definitely another player who seems to have a promising career in the game ahead of him (and hopefully at Coventry!).
To have two of last year’s youngsters break into the full squad is extremely encouraging and it looks likely others will follow before too long as well.
I’ve already made mention of Povey and Lewis, but there’s also the likes of Flinn, McNulty, Lane and Roach, with perhaps Titchener, Neal and Asiedu not too far behind them.
If we can find talented youngsters at an early age, particularly those from the Coventry area, and nurture that talent in-house, that can only be a good thing for the club and for the community as well.
I’ve not heard much mention of it, but I think from what I recall of a meeting with supporters over the close season, Phil Boulton is also overseeing an U18s squad of players. The real acid test is whether in 3 or 4 years time we will see one or two from amongst this group doing something similar to Luc Jeannot and Cameron Gray by making their debuts for Cov in the Championship or beyond.
Now that would be something special.
It’s hard enough when you’ve reached somewhere near the top of the mountain, but for youngsters struggling to get a foot in the game there are going to be all sorts of obstacles put in their way, obstacles that have to be overcome if they are too succeed.
For them there just:
Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wild enough
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
I’ll get some extra brownie points for including this.
Sue is very much a Motown kinda girl so I’m definitely onto a winner with this one – and it’s altogether a better version than the Diana Ross and the Supremes’ hit a few years later, good as that was.