Day 6 of the Cov Blog’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) 2019 poll results.
And this time it’s 7th place that’s up for grabs.
And today you voted for:
Pete White has appeared in the MVP poll on one previous occasion, back in 2016 when he was 4th overall behind Darrell Dyer, Brendon Snyman and that year’s winner, James Stokes. A second appearance three years later shows just what a popular player he is amongst supporters and how important he is to the success of the current squad.
After Pete’s first season back in 2016/17, I well remember Rowland Winter chatting to a group of supporters at a training session, saying something along the lines that he’d asked Pete to stay on for another season, at the end of which the club would allow him a move to a Championship side if such an opportunity wasn’t going to come at Cov. He deserved the opportunity but Cov wanted to keep him for another season because they knew he was so important to their plans.
Pete had expressed a desire to play at a higher level almost from the word go and it was clear that he was ambitious to prove himself not just in National One but back in the Championship, having joined us from Bedford. At the time of his joining, Cov was more of a stepping stone to bigger and better things for Pete than might be the case for some of the other players recruited for Rowland Winter in his first season at Cov.
‘Everyone wants to play at the highest level possible and if an opportunity arises for me to go higher, I’ll grab it with two hands. But I just want to take it week by week, my focus is on playing the best that I can for Coventry, getting some game time under my belt, and hopefully helping this club up the leagues. It’s great to be here’.
Fortunately for Cov, promotion came at the end of that second season and Pete has since been able to test himself against the best sides this league has to offer.
Hopefully, Pete will be yet another of the current squad to become a Coventry Rugby centurion, being just over 20 games shy of the 100 mark (note of caution – according to Statbunker!). By the end of the season, all being well, he’ll be less than 10…
Since the arrival of Tom Kessell, many of his appearances have been from off the bench and if the selection of any one position has divided supporters more than any other, then it’s been at scrum half.
And indeed some of Pete’s best performances have been when he’s come on for the final 25-20 minutes, upping the tempo of the game and putting the opposition on the back foot just at the point when players are beginning to tire. In many ways, Pete exemplifies Rowland Winter’s preferred brand of rugby, played at pace, direct, attacking and offering quick ball to the players outside him. Maybe his box kicking isn’t quite as effective as Tom Kessell’s, but when he is firing quick passes out left and right and Cov are on a roll, well there are few more exciting players to watch.
Whilst The Rugby Paper’s player ratings aren’t something to be taken as gospel by any means, they do confirm the fact that Pete appears at his most effective coming off the bench. A finisher by name and nature perhaps.
According to TRP, for those Cup and League games in which Pete has come off the bench, he has an impressive average score of 6.71, against 6.33 for those in which he’s started. A reminder, the ratings do not include the Yorkshire Carnegie or Newcastle Falcons games as they were on a Sunday.
Hardly proof, I know, but it does help explain, perhaps, why Tom Kessell starts more games than Pete W – TK’s style of play arguably has less impact in the final 20 minutes than perhaps Pete’s does.
I’m sure Pete would have liked to have started more games over the last couple of seasons, but it’s hard not to overestimate the impact that he has coming on as a replacement. As the table below shows, 10 of the backs’ 15 tries in the first six League games of the season have come in the second half – none have come from the forwards. Now clearly that’s not entirely attributable to Pete, but when games do start to open up as they go into the final quarter, Pete is the ideal player at 9 to take advantage.
The above clip shows Rob Knox’s try against Doncaster last season and I’ve included it just as an example of when Cov are on a roll, Pete is at the heart of much of the play, in this case involved in 5 phases in the build up to the try.
And in the one below, Tom Jubb takes the catch, passes to White, to Tolmie, to White again and then to James who finishes off the move – a good example of how effective he can be in support.
And look out for Pete’s signature fist pump. There’s are few better sights than seeing Pete pop up on the shoulder of a player to receive the ball on the charge.
Back in 2016 when Pete joined Cov from Bedford, we had to wait a long time to get our first glimpse of him. It wasn’t until the end of October in fact when he came on as a second half replacement for Rhodri Adamson against Fylde in Cov’s convincing 53-24 demolition of our old rivals. For part of the pre-season Pete had been on crutches, having had an operation to correct a bone spur on his hip and whilst that first cameo was all of 28 minutes long, it was more than enough to convince supporters Pete was the real deal.
He’d been signed as the first choice scrum half, but his absence meant that there was only young Rhodri Adamson and Alex Smit as cover, and with Smit showing little in pre-season to suggest that he was going to be able to fill the gap left by Pete, Sam Grasso was brought in – only to quickly succumb to injury himself. Pete’s recovery signalled a change in our fortunes too – we’d lost 4 of our first 6 games as I recall and a couple of trips down to London had been almost as tough for the supporters as they had been for the players…
I enjoy watching Pete; he’s always busy snapping at the heels of opposing players and he seems to be constantly talking to those around him, the opposition, the referee…in short, whoever will listen (and many who won’t). He’s just the sort of player who is likely to get under the skin of the opposition and, when he’s urging his forwards on, he’s like a feisty general commanding his troops.
And the big question here is, will Tom Kessell make an appearance in the top 12 too?
(On a personal level, whilst many players keep themselves to themselves, as indeed I do, Pete has always been one of the first to say hello or nod an acknowledgement at an away game as he warms up before kick off – a minor thing I know, but when you support the club home and away small gestures like that count for a lot and are warmly appreciated. Thanks, Pete.)
It’s the 7th Day of Christmas tomorrow…
Here’s how it’s gone so far:
Day 6 – Pete White (7th)
Day 5 – Tony Fenner (8th)
Day 4 – Luke Wallace (9th)
Day 3 – Henry Purdy (10th)
Day 2 – Adam Peters (11th)
Day 1 – Senitiki Nayalo (12th)