ELLIOT BALE and Tom Putt both have their eyes on Plymouth Albion’s number 10 shirt.
The duo are training with the National One side in the hope of winning a contract for the 2015/16 season.
Both have been named in the club’s 24-man squad to travel to Jersey this weekend for Albion’s opening pre-season match.
Declan Cusask and Lawrence Rayner were Plymouth’s first and second choice number 10s last season, but they left the club in the summer.
Although director of rugby Graham Dawe does have Billy Searle and Marc Koteczky who can play fly-half, he is looking for another option at 10.
Bale, 23, believes he could be the perfect fit.
He came through Bedford Blues’ Academy, where he helped them win the National Colts’ Cup in 2011. Bale started the final at Franklin’s Gardens, with Rayner the back-up fly-half on the bench.
After one first team appearance for the Blues in the British & Irish Cup, Bale went on to make his mark at Cambridge in National One, starting 32 league games and scoring more than 250 points in two seasons before moving on to ambitious Shelford.
However, he is looking for a new club now having just returned to England after a season playing in France for level four side Saint Savin.
“I was looking at options for this season and I spoke to Graham about the possibility of coming down here and he was really welcoming,” said Bale.
“He asked if I could come down for a week, which I accepted. I came down and did some training and now I am back here looking to play against Jersey at the weekend.”
He added: “I am looking to play the best possible standard I can and, in my opinion, I think Plymouth have a really good chance this year. I think it would be a really good fit for me at this club.
Bale, who said a couple of last year’s Albion squad recommended the club to him, hopes if he does get a chance this weekend he can prove a point to Dawe.
“If I’m playing hopefully I will be able to put in a good performance for the boys and the club,” he said.
Bale has played at Jersey before with Cambridge, but he feels he is a better player now having gone away to France for a year.
“It was a good standard of rugby over there and I also got to train at a tier two club as well. That definitely pushed me on as an individual,” said Bale. “I was lucky as I was a professional and could train full-time.”
He added: “I studied French at school, so going over there had always interested me.
“I had played at Cambridge and Shelford but I really wanted to test myself, not just as a rugby player, but as an individual as well.
“I went over and just tried to develop as much as I could.”
Bale knows playing Jersey away will be a tough test for Albion’s new-look side, but he believes that is what the team needs.
“It’s a good thing for a new team coming together to set their standards high,” he said.
“To play against Jersey and Bedford in pre-season we’ll be able to see where we are at by the start of September.
“I think it will be much more beneficial playing against these Championships clubs. If Plymouth are to go back up they need to see how they look against these guys.”
Putt, meanwhile, also hopes he could be the right fit for Albion.
The 18-year-old from Kingsbridge was in the Exeter Chiefs Academy, but he wants to be playing senior rugby at the highest level he can on a regular basis.
He would like that to be at Albion, but if not then he will join National Three South West side Newton Abbot.
“I’m just enjoying it and seeing how it goes,” said Putt.
“But when you do get an opportunity you have to take it or someone else will take it from you.”
He added: “I’m on trial to the end of pre-season. Hopefully, I will get involved in a couple of pre-season games.”
On what he feels his strengths are, Putt said: “Goal-kicking and game-management, which is all you really need for a 10 – that and to be confident.”
Dawe is set to name his team to face Jersey on Friday morning. The experienced Koteczky is not available due to injury, so the Albion boss must decide whether to start with already-signed Searle at 10 or have a look at either Bale and Putt this weekend.