Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Plymouth Albion will take ‘flexible approach’ to try and build best squad


PLYMOUTH Albion’s director of rugby Graham Dawe says the club have to take a ‘flexible approach’ as they attempt to put together a squad they hope can challenge for a return to the Championship.

Albion were relegated last month after 13 seasons in English rugby’s second tier.

They are now busy trying to re-build their playing squad for life in National One.

Twelve players have already confirmed they are leaving Brickfields, while others are also expected to depart this summer.

Last season, Albion went totally full-time for the first time. It did mean some players like David Morton, Martin Rice, Gareth Evans and Dan Williams opted to leave.

Dawe, who recently returned to Plymouth after an absence of three-and-a-half years, said the club do have to be a lot more flexible with their training sessions and recruitment now they have dropped down a level.

“We are in the process of trying to finalise a squad,” said Dawe.

“We are speaking to players at this moment in time.”

When asked whether players would be full-time, part-time or a mixture of both, Dawe said: “We are just finalising those plans at the moment.

“But for sure we have to take a flexible approach to give ourselves the best opportunity to put together a competitive squad.”

When Dawe was previously at Albion he put great importance on having a development team. Many players came through the club’s Warriors side to become first-team regulars and eventually sign for top-flight clubs like Luke Arscott, Lee Robinson, Matt Hopper, Mike Denbee, Rory Watts-Jones and Evans.

Albion, though, have not had a development side since November 2011, and Dawe admits at the moment the club’s first priority has to be trying to put together a competitive first team.

“We know we have got 30 leagues to get through and that has to be our number one priority,” said Dawe.

Meanwhile, Ampthill have been promoted into National One after they beat Bishop’s Stortford in a play-off.

However, the make-up of National One is still not confirmed as relegated Old Albanian, who have re-appointed James Shanahan as their coach, have appealed their demotion.

Old Albanian were deducted five points in January for fielding an ineligible player, although they did not appeal at the time they have now they have been relegated and following a recent case invovling Gloucester. They finished one point behind Cinderford.

Their appeal will be heard on Thursday. If they are successful then Cinderford, who would be Albion’s second closest opponents next season, would be relegated. Cinderford are seeking legal action themselves.

But if their appeal is not successful, Shanahan is confident he can get out OA’s back to National one.

He said: “I’ve gotten out of National Two twice, so we’ll do it a third time.”

* Former Albion prop George Porter has left Worcester Warriors and joined Championship new-boys Ealing, who last week signed Iain Grieve from Plymouth.


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