On the 11th day of Christmas, the runner-up is…

2ndDay 11 of the Cov Blog’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) 2019 poll results.

And this time it’s 2nd place and runner up that’s up for grabs.

And today you voted for:

Max Trimble.

Congratulations, Max.

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The current Cov squad is littered with players with experience of playing club rugby at the highest level – Luke Wallace (Harlequins), Ryan Burrows (Newcastle Falcons), Henry Purdy and David Halaifonua (Gloucester) to name but a few.

And then there’s Max Trimble, who before joining Cov played for Nottingham Moderns, Leeds Metropolitan University and Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

Not clubs that trip off the tongue in all honesty.

And yet here’s Max, 2nd in the MVP poll and playing alongside such luminaries of the game as those mentioned above. And his importance to the team is such that if he’s fit, then he’s an automatic shoe-in for a place in the starting XV.

Max is a one of those special players, someone who can change the course of a game with a moment of individual magic.

43 tries in just 59 games is one heck of a record and whilst I’m not privy to the club’s records, I wouldn’t mind betting that an average of a try every 1.3 games is up there with Cov’s best in the modern era.

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Max Trimble about to score against Bedford earlier this season (Photo courtesy of John Coles)

It really is a phenomenal record. (Again, the usual disclaimer about the accuracy of Statbunker’s data comes into play here, but it won’t be far out).

Kurt Johnson’s 105 tries, for instance, were amassed over 237 games at an average one every 2.26 games, while  Rob Knox has 63 from 134 (2.12) and James Stokes recently left us with 35 from 83 (2.37).

And fair play to Scott Tolmie who has 38 from 100 appearances according to Statbunker (2.63), which is a pretty impressive record for a forward.

But none of them are even close to Max’s current strike rate.

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And the thing about Max is, he’s getting better and better.

He’s one of those players who gets the crowd to their feet whenever he has the ball and there’s always the feeling that he’s capable of scoring from almost anywhere these days. If he only has the one player to beat, then you’d fancy him to come out on top  – his change of pace can be electric at times and he is one of the few players we have who has the basic speed to beat the defender on the outside, as we’ve seen on numerous occasions in the last three seasons.

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Another game, another try – Trimble v Doncaster here (Photo courtesy of John Coles)

It was his friendship with James Stokes which bought Max to Cov. Both had attended Nottingham High School and they’d kept in touch after leaving. Knowing that Max was available, James mentioned him to Rowland Winter.

Max had originally had ambitions in football and was a self-confessed reluctant convert to rugby, only taking up the game when he was forced to do so at Nottingham High School.

MT had always been more interested in football, but as he said in an interview with John Wilkinson for the Coventry Telegraph back in Dec 2016:

‘I was fairly nifty and pretty good at running away.

They said it was in the school contract that school takes priority, so I ended up having to play and just started to fall in love with it,” he said. “I’ve been playing ever since.’

After a couple of seasons with Cov in National One, Max was offered a two year contract on the club’s promotion to the Championship, a contract that is up for renewal at the end of the season. I think most supporters would expect a further extension to be a no-brainer given the impact he has had on the pitch over the last couple of seasons.

Interviewed on CoventryLive back in 2018, MT was evidently excited about the prospect of playing at a higher level:

‘To be honest, I don’t know what my limits are – that’s the thing. I was kind of a full-time athlete at university, but it was never near to this kind of level and I wasn’t the player I am now, so I think it will be nice to begin to push towards those limits.

It won’t happen all of a sudden, but if I can get close in the first year I can continue from there.’

Moving full-time enabled Max to give up his job working in hospitality over The Ricoh for Wasps

‘I haven’t really done a lot of full-time training before and I definitely feel like I’ve been playing catch-up the whole time for the past couple of years, so this is a great opportunity to push myself to my potential.’

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Max has had a couple of niggles this season, but he has played in five of the seven League games so far, starting in all of them (an indication of just how important a player he is). The Rugby Paper average player ratings give him a very respectable score of 6.75, but that doesn’t tell the full story, as in a couple of games he saw very little ball, especially against Jersey and Newcastle.

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Max Trimble leaves the Ealing defender for dead on his way to scoring Cov’s first try against Ealing (Photo courtesy of John Coles)

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Max is a good example, and probably the best so far, of Rowland Winter taking a gamble on a player, knowing as he does that his coaches have the ability to bring out the best in his players, provided they are willing to listen and learn.

Through good coaching and the player’s own determination and self-belief, Max has become one of the best finishers in the Championship and is currently on the list of leading try scorers for the division this season.

The improvements in Max’s game have been significant over the three and a half seasons he has been with Cov. It’s worth mentioning that in the previous two MVP polls, back in 2016 and 2017, Max didn’t appear in either of the top 12 lists. And that’s quite significant.

Good as he was back then, he was still relatively raw in terms of his rugby at that level and it’s taken a while for him to mature into the player he now is and for supporters to see him as one of Coventry Rugby’s greatest assets playing wise.

In an earlier quote from Max, he talked about relishing the chance to push himself, to test himself now he is a full-time professional.

With that in mind, have we yet seen the best of Max?

Probably not.

He was a relatively late starter as far as his rugby is concerned and he’s still got a good few years left in him and, like Rob Knox, the century of tries for Cov is certainly a possibility  provided he stays fit and healthy and committed to the club.

Here’s hoping.

So 2nd place in the Cov Blog MVP poll goes to Max Trimble.

The 11 pipers are a-piping…

Well done, Max.

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It’s the 12th Day of Christmas tomorrow and just the one position to be decided, that of first place.

So, who will be it…? Not long to wait now.

Here’s how it’s gone so far:

Day 11 – Max Trimble (2nd)
Day 10 – Ryan Burrows (3rd)
Day 9 – Jack Ram (4th)
Day 8 – Rob Knox (5th)
Day 7 – Rory Jennings and Will Maisey (6th)
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)

Author: Tim

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