PLYMOUTH Albion supporters may not have to wait much longer for the club to announce their first signings of the summer.
Director of rugby Graham Dawe (pictured above) had called on fans to be patient while the club tried to sort themselves out following their relegation from the Championship and their much-published financial problems.
But Dawe, who has taken over from James Shanahan, said he is now making progress as he attempts to build a squad capable of challenging at the right of the National One table.
He said: “A couple of players this week have agreed to join the club. It is just a case of waiting for the paperwork to be done.
“It has taken a while, not just because of the players, but because of the club’s situation as well. The club has had to make sure it has got everything in place before making commitments.”
He added: “It is our desire to have as many good players as possible and along with that there are a lot of young players who would like to join the club and give it a crack, which is nice.
“We are still working through a process with some people – speaking to them and getting an idea of what they want to achieved and where they want to go with their rugby career.”
Albion, who have been linked with teenage Cornwall back Billy Searle in recent weeks, will virtually have a new squad for the 2015/16 campaign. The majority of last season’s team that only won three Championship matches have or are moving on.
Many already agreed to join other teams before Albion knew which division they would be playing in, while others wanted better deals than Plymouth could offer or decided they could not wait for the club to sort themselves out.
Two players – forwards Ted Stagg and Herbie Stupple – are believed to have previously signed long-term deals that means they are still under contract at Brickfields, although it is not known if they have release clauses.
Dawe, who did not want to comment on individuals, said: “You find with players that have played in the Championship that they want to remain there.
“You will get some players who will stay either because they are in contract or because they want to rebuild with the club, which is great, but there are also some players who are a long way from home and they want to migrate back to their local place.
“I’m sure a lot of players would like to stay, but Plymouth Albion are not in a position to offer too many lucrative contracts.
“We were also in a situation earlier where we just could not give stone cold guarantees. We just needed time to get the club on a reasonable footing.
“It is very easy to go out and spread contracts around, but everything in life has to be paid for.”
Albion were determined to get their finances sorted out and budget properly. Three times in recent years Albion have got midway through a season and then run out of funds.
Dawe hopes the club is now back on a firm footing once and for all.
“Rugby can be a very volatile business,” he said. “But we have a great core of support and got great sponsors. It’s about trying to keep those sponsors and that support and add to them.
“Yet the best way of marketing this club is to win rugby matches. We do have to take this opportunity to get that balance right. We don’t want to find ourselves in a position where we can’t be sustainable.
“There’s a lot of hard work ahead of us and we know that.”
He added: “We want to be competitive, but there are 10 very, very good teams in National One, and probably five more pretty good teams, and they are all going to be hard to beat.”
Dawe says Albion intend to make use of the dual-registration system again next season.
In 2011, when Dawe was last in charge at Brickfields, he had Henry Slade, Jack Nowell and Luke Cowan-Dickie on dual-registered agreements from Exeter. Those three players this week were named in England’s World Cup training squad.
“They came and joined us on dual-registered terms. All three were talented players,” said Dawe.
“We will make use of dual-registered players as well next season. That is an important ingredient.”
Dawe has confirmed that Albion will return to pre-season training on June 29.
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