GRAHAM DAWE admits the battle for Plymouth Albion’s number seven shirt is as hot as it has been all season.
Following Jarrad Hayler’s return from Royal Navy duty and Andy Chesters’ comeback from injury, Albion now have four players fighting for the open-side flanker role.
Cameron Thompson has started the last three games after getting the chance while Hayler and Chesters were out, with Frenchman Gregory Sebastien having come off the bench in the last three matches and started the previous two.
Former Albion star Sam Matevesi is also training with the club, which is also helping to push on the others, while Seti Raumakita, also just back from Royal Navy duty, can also play there as well as on the wing.
“It is very good to have that competition,” said director of rugby Dawe.
The Albion boss admits Plymouth-born Thompson has really taken his chance in the first team.
“Cameron has fitted in seamlessly,” said Dawe. “He is a good rugby player and understands what is required. However, he is certainly feeling the heat from the others for that number seven shirt.”
Hayler wore the shirt for Albion’s opening four league matches before going away to the International Defence Rugby Competition.
He was named among Albion’s replacements last weekend against Henley Hawks following his return to the club after a month away, but his hopes of getting the jersey back has not been helped by more representative honours.
On Monday night, the 20-year-old was in the UK Armed Forces squad (previously known as the Combined Services) for their match against Bath United and he is also set to play for the Royal Navy Under-23s on Wednesday night against the RAF.
“Jarrad had a great September,” said Dawe. “It was his first introduction to rugby at this level and he learned on the hop, with help from people around him like Herbie Stupple and James Penman.
“He has earned recognition with the Royal Navy and Combined Services and long may he continue his upward journey.
“Yet it means he is spinning a few plates at the moment, but, hopefully he will be a more rounded player for his experience with the Combined Servies, Royal Navy and Plymouth.
“But while he’s been away Andy Chesters, Gregory Sebastien and Cameron Thompson have all been trying to make that number seven shirt their own.
“It is really competitive for that shirt.”
Frenchman Sebastien was a late arrival to the Albion ranks, arriving from Lyon at the end of September, but Dawe feels the 22-year-old is now finding his feet in English rugby and getting used to the way Albion play.
Sebastien certainly made his mark when he came on as a replacement against Henley on Saturday.
“Greg’s a good athlete and a quick learner, who is really keen to progress his game,” said Dawe. “He is learning along the way and putting some good principles in his game. He is tightening his game up and, hopefully, he is going to keep getting better and better.”