LEWIS PATERSON is looking forward to taking his Ivybridge team to his former club Launceston on Friday night for a pre-season fixture (7.30pm).
The Bridgers’ player-coach (pictured above) spent four seasons at Polson Bridge, making nearly 80 league appearances for them and scoring 36 league tries.
But he returned to his home club, Ivybridge, midway through the 2013/14 campaign and helped the Cross-in-Hand side to two consecutive promotions.
Ivybridge are now just one division below Launceston having moved up to National Three South West this year.
Last pre-season the Bridgers played the Cornish All Blacks’ second team but on Friday it will be a first team clash.
“We are looking forward to it,” said Paterson. “The plan is we both play strong teams in the first half and then make some changes with fringe or potential players coming on in the second half.”
Ivybridge have already made one visit to Polson Bridge this summer, taking part in a 10s tournament, alongside Launceston and Okehampton.
“We went to the 10s tournament and that was quite successful,” said Paterson. “We took 18 players down and it was a real kick-start to the season.”
Ivybridge have also had run-outs against Plymouth Fiji and Wadebridge, but Friday’s game will be more a recognisable first team.
Last weekend Ivybridge took 34 players down to Wadebridge for three 30-minute games and used all the squad.
“We have cut the squad down this week,” said Paterson. “We’ll take about 23 players.
“We have got a few players missing, like young back-rower Alex Hall, Dom Loomes, who is still banned, and Gareth Elliot will be late as he works up at Exeter Chiefs. George Wilson might get 20 minutes coming back from injury.
“But we’ve got a few who weren’t at Wadebridge, like Tom Scoles and Jordan Anderton.
Forward Loomes picked up a suspension for a red card playing for Devon in the County Championship but he should be available to play in Ivybridge’s final pre-season game against Exeter University.
However, Friday’s match is one that Paterson is most looking forward to having played for so long for Launceston.
“My biggest regret was that I did not make 100 caps for them,” he said. “I think I was on about 79 or 80 caps, but I had a good try scoring record and I do have massively fond memories of the club.”
Launceston will be a new-look side after losing so many of their first team this summer, with seven alone moving to Plymouth Albion.
“They have obviously lost certain players who have gone to Albion and you can’t blame them whatsoever, I did it. It’s a massive opportunity for those players,” said Paterson.
“But the way they (Launceston) have filled their squad is quite good. They have filled it with young players, who have loads of potential. It’s almost like we have got at Ivybridge.
“We got 19 and 20 years with 60 caps for Ivybridge, so they ae quite experienced now.
“If they can keep hold of these players in two or three years’ time they will have a very good side.”