Plymouth Albion / Rugby

You need versatile players in National One, says Albion boss Dawe

Graham Dawe 2

PLYMOUTH Albion’s director of rugby Graham Dawe believes having players who are versatile is vital in National One due to the replacement rules at that level.

Teams are only permitted to have five players on their bench in National One, compared to seven in the Championship.

But, like in the Championship, clubs still have to have five front-row forwards in their match-day squad.

At level three, however, clubs can make 10 interchanges, like in the County Championship.

VERSATILE: New signing Matt Shepherd

VERSATILE: New signing Matt Shepherd

Most of Dawe’s signings so far can play in more than one position and he feels that is important, with the rules and a tight budget.

“With five replacements you are likely to go with three or four forwards and only one or two backs on the bench, so versatility definitely helps,” said Dawe.

“You want people who are comfortable in other positions in both defence and attack.

“Certain situations might only crop up once or twice a season, but it’s good to be prepared,” added the Albion boss, who previously had forwards like Dan Ward-Smith and Danny Thomas who could also play in the backs if required.

Dawe says he actually prefers the replacement rules in National One to those in the Championship or Premiership, where they can have eight players on the bench.

“It’s an opportunity for two extra players to play rugby elsewhere,” he said. “I think there are too many guys sitting on benches all season.

“With travelling reserves, you can have nine or 10 people not getting any rugby or only a bit each week.

“Also with the interchange rules it maybe gives you more of an opportunity to give an inexperienced player a chance.

“You might take an inexperienced player all the way to Tynedale, but you don’t want to pull off an experienced player permanently, especially if it is a tight game. But this way you can maybe give an inexperienced player 10 or 15 minutes in the middle of a game but have your experienced player on at the start and the end.”

Meanwhile, Dawe’s new signings and a number of trialists will meet for the first time tomorrow.

The club are returning for the start of pre-season training, although the first two days will be mainly taken up with meetings, testings and administrative issues, with the real hard work starting on Wednesday.

“It is just a case of trying to get the guys as fit as we can,” said Dawe.

“Pre-season is going to be about hard work and trying to bond and come together as a team.

“Rugby is ultimately a team game and you want everyone to enjoy everyone’s company.”

Albion have only confirmed 15 players for their 2015/16 squad so far. That figure is likely to increase in the next couple of days, although Dawe has admitted there will be quite a few trialists trying to impress in the next few weeks.

Only five members of the Plymouth squad that finished last season will definitely be back again.

When asked if anymore from last term are likely to return for pre-season training, Dawe said: “That remains to be seen.”

However, there are not many of last year’s squad whose futures have not yet been decided.

Some 22 players are known to have left the club. Among those departures are wingers Pete Homan and Jake Henry, who are set to join prop Tom Harrison at Albion’s National One rivals Darlington Mowden Park.

Harrison has already confirmed his move north on his Twitter profile, while Darlington, who have recently started following all three players on social media, are expected to announce Homan and Henry’s signings soon.

As reported previously, Elliot Clements-Hill has been training with Bedford, Andrew Tiedemann is unable to obtain a visa to play in National One, while Dawe has also confirmed that Alistair Bone will not be returning to Brickfields.

As well as trying to complete his playing squad, Dawe is also still working on finalising his coaching team for the forthcoming season.



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