TOM BEDFORD says Plymouth Albion want to show their intent for the forthcoming season on Saturday when they play at home for the first time in a warm-up game against his former club Bedford Blues.
The experienced centre believes the Blues will offer a different type of pre-season test to that of fellow Championship outfit Jersey, who National One side Albion lost 43-15 to at St Peter on August 8.
Bedford, though, felt there were many positives to come out of that game in the Channel Islands and he wants the new-look Plymouth team to build on them this weekend.
“We took a lot of positives from the Jersey game,” he said. “There were a lot of things we did right, but, there again, there’s still a lot to work on.
“I know the score-line does not really show it, but we were pleased with our defence. The only way Jersey scored a few tries was through us giving away penalties and then they mauled us over.
“But attacking wise we showed good intent and our accuracy was pretty good in the first half, so we were pretty pleased, but, like I said, there’s always stuff to work on.”
He added: “Bedford are a good, well-established Championship club, who are well-drilled.
“I know they have been back in pre-season training for a while as I have been chatting to a few of my friends there.
“It will be a very good test for us, but it’s what we need as a squad.
“We are a new squad and we need to be tested so we can find our boundaries. I’m looking forward to it.”
Bedford, who spent 18 months at Goldington Road before moving to Premiership side Newcastle, says the Blues like to play a different way to Jersey.
“Bedford are renowned for their backs play, so it will be good,” said the centre, who made his Blues league debut against Albion. “It’ll be a challenge, which is what we need.
“I’ve got a couple of good friends up there so I’ve tried to get a bit of information out of them this week, but they’re not that stupid.”
He added: “It’s our first home game of the season. We have been talking about making Brickfields a fortress this year. We want a good home record and that has to start Saturday, to be honest.
“It’s a big game in a way as it’s in front of our home fans. We want to show our intent for the season.
“Hopefully, we can give Bedford a good old challenge.”
The 26-year-old, who has also played for Exeter, Cornish Pirates, Ealing and Esher, is the most experienced player in Albion’s new-look National One squad.
And the former Ivybridge Community College pupil says he is enjoying being one of the elder statesmen in the team.
“To be honest, I quite like the role I am playing here,” he said. “I quite like being one of the older ones, but I’m still learning from these young ones. They are quicker than me and things like that, so I’ve got to over-think them.
“It’s good to have a slight leadership role. I am enjoying it.”
Bedford found himself in Exeter Chiefs’ squad when he was a teenager and so he knows what it is like for young players coming into a senior team for the first time.
“I have been in their position and so you just have to make them feel at home and let them express themselves,” he said.
The Exeter-born centre is certainly enjoying being back in Devon for the first time in five years.
“I’m loving it, to be honest,” said Bedford. “It’s nice to be home. It’s where I grew up and where I have a lot of ties, so I’m pleased to be back.”
Bedford is a qualified tree surgeon, but is only doing ‘bits and bobs at the moment’ while he finds his feet at Albion.
Albion’s game with Bedford kicks off at 5pm. It will be one of four live matches played on the Brickfields pitch on Saturday as the National One club host a festival of rugby.
An Albion development team will play Weston-super-Mare at 1.15pm before Plymouth Combination sides Old Techs and Tamar Saracens lock horns in a pre-season clash. Then after Albion’s match with Bedford, fellow Combination team DHSOB will play Cornish side Camelford at 7pm.
Albion, whose league season starts on September 5, will also be showing England’s international match with France in their bars, guaranteeing nearly 10 hours of rugby. Admission for the day is £10 for adults, with under-16s getting in free.