DEVONPORT High School Old Boys’ director of rugby Mike Freeman has raised the bar with his 2015/16 ambitions for his side following a host of new signings.
At the start of the summer, Freeman’s goal for DHSOB was to try and avoid a battle for the wooden spoon in Devon Two after three consecutive seasons in the bottom two.
However, now he has promotion on his mind after persuading the bulk of the Plymouth Fiji rugby team to sign for them and gaining the services of Plymouth Albion’s teenage prop Rory Briers.
“We have got a big selection headache now,” admitted Freeman, whose team open their Devon Two campaign on Saturday with a home game against Ilfracombe.
“We’ve got to sit down and decide what we are going to do.
“We have got two games this weekend. We play Ilfracombe in the league and Plymstock Albion Oaks’ seconds.”
Freeman admits it might be a case of head ruling the heart on selection, but he certainly knows what the Fijians can bring to his side.
When they played Camelford in pre-season, DHSOB were 26-0 down but the half-time introduction of a number of the Fijians saw them claim a 26-26 draw.
Last Friday they played each other in a pre-season game ahead of the England v Fiji match.
“We had a good turnout,” said Freeman. “They (Plymouth Fiji) were not at their strongest but once their backs get a bit of daylight they are away. They won 36-5 but we kept them down to two tries in the second half and I was quite encouraged by the performance. I think we earned the Fijians’ respect.
“Many of these guys are registered with us and if they are going to take it seriously and are willing to travel then we would be looking to get out of this league.
“If eight or nine of them fully commit then I think we will get out of the division as they are too good for Devon Two. Just having a few quality players can make all the difference.
“Devon Two is a tough league and you do have to have that bit of quality. These Fijians, well I’d rather call them new players, will provide that quality. They are match-winners.
“This is an opportunity for us to get out of Devon Two and then hopefully in a couple of years’ time we will have some of our youngsters coming through.”
Freeman does think the new arrivals have helped improve the standard of the players who were at the club last year and he hopes the club’s ‘older players’ will embrace the extra competition.
Meanwhile, Old Techs will be looking for promotion after dropping down from Devon One last season. They open their campaign on Saturday with a trip to Dartmouth.
Meanwhile, Plympton Victoria, who have battling for the wooden spoon for the last few years with DHSOB travel to Buckfastleigh. Plym Vic have lost a couple of their better players to OPMs.