GRAHAM DAWE is not only giving young players a chance to prove themselves at Plymouth Albion, but also some up-and-coming coaches.
Albion’s director of rugby has a number of people currently helping him out on the coaching side, one of whom is 32-year-old Simon Lane.
Lane, a level four coach who specialises in attack and backs play, has worked at both Worcester Warriors and Gloucester in their academy set-ups.
However, he was keen to get involved in a senior professional environment and so contacted Dawe about whether there were any opportunities at Albion.
And for the past month he has been spending a couple of days a week at Albion.
“I have a background in academies,” said Lane. “I started off in community rugby working with Worcester Warriors. I did five years at Worcester and progressed into their academy. I coached their AASE programme and academy programme, before moving to Gloucester for two-and-a-half seasons as assistant academy manager there.
“But coaching senior players was something I felt I wanted to move towards. The main difference between senior rugby and academies is the pressure and accountability on match-days.”
“I contacted Graham just after the season finished and put my hat in the ring for a backs and attack coaching role here.
“Since then he has been in touch and he has been great in giving me the opportunity and a lot of responsibility in coaching the lads.”
Lane added: “I’m into the fourth week of pre-season with them. I have been coming down twice a week for two full-on days of rugby and it has been fantastic.
“There’s a good, young outlook to the group. There’s a few guys who have been given the chance from leagues below and they are grabbing it with both hands. They are a pleasure to work with.
“And the more experienced players like Herbie (Stupple), Dan (Collier) and Cameron (Setter) have been a really good influence on the group.
“It’s a young side, but they are enthusiastic, keen to learn and we are making big strides.
“However, with so many new players there is still a way to go. It will take time, but we are working hard.
“We have a tough pre-season fixture schedule and difficult fixtures early in the league so everyone is focused.”
Although his role at Albion is only temporary at the moment, Lane is hoping it might become a more long-term arrangement.
“The initial arrangement was for pre-season, but I am in the middle of talking to Graham about a possible longer term connection with the club,” said Lane, who lives in Gloucester but stays down in Plymouth a couple of nights a week.
He is certainly enjoying working with former England international hooker Dawe.
“He is a brilliant bloke,” said Lane. “A lot of the players have already said publicly that he is great at giving opportunities and responsibilities and you do feed off his enthusiasm. He has a real passion for the game and Plymouth.
Lane, who has worked for 10 years as a professional coach, says opportunities to get into the senior game are few and far between no matter who you are or what you have achieved.
He said: “I had a few discussions with other clubs but there was not much turnaround in coaching staff nationally. It is a tough one to get into.
“I said to Graham when I spoke to him the first time that sometimes you just need that break or someone to trust you and give you a chance and he’s done that.
“Now he’s given me the chance, I’m keen not to let him down. I’m working really hard to repay him and to help him bring on field success back to Plymouth Albion.”