Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Young fly-half Searle believes he has really developed at Albion

Billy SearlePLYMOUTH Albion’s Billy Searle is proof that young players can flourish outside the RFU academy system.

Searle only turned 20 years-old on Friday but already has an impressive rugby CV behind him.

He has played 45 National League games and won the County Championship with Cornwall at Twickenham, kicking a vital penalty in that final. He also played in a Twickenham cup final for Exeter College the year before.

Searle came through Okehampton’s junior ranks before joining Launceston as an 18-year-old. He made 22 appearances for them in National Two, including 17 starts, before catching Cornwall coach Graham Dawe’s eye this time last year playing against Devon in the Tamar Cup.

He then followed Dawe to Albion in the summer and has been a key member of the Plymouth team that has risen to third in the National One table. He has started 19 of their 25 league matches and come on in four more, scoring seven tries.

“I’ve had some very good experiences so far, and, hopefully, that can stand me in good stead for the future,” said Searle.

“This season has gone really well. I always came down here with the intention to get into the team. I am glad I have gone so many games starting.

“I’ve had a good spell now in the first team and it has been going really well.”

Dawe and Albion’s coaching staff did make Searle wait for his chance at the higher level. He didn’t get his first start until Plymouth played Blaydon on October 17. But since then he has not looked back.

When asked if he felt it was maybe a good thing that he had to be patient and come on from the bench for a few games before getting a National One start, Searle said: “I reckon Graham will say so, but obviously I wanted to play. However, it might have been good for my development just to train with the boys to start with, but you never know it might have been good to start straight away as well.

“But I have definitely improved since I’ve been here. I have had good coaching from both Graham (Dawe) and Simon (Lane). I think my game has really come on a lot this year, which is good.

“My game-management has really come on, which is a big thing at this level. I think that’s got better throughout the season and has helped us win games.”

Searle has particularly impressed in Albion’s last two matches against high-flying Blackheath and Darlington.

He said: “I feel like I am getting more involved all the time and my kicking game is coming on really nicely as well. That’s a big thing for a 10. Hopefully, I can just keep going until the end of the season now.”

Searle admits playing well for Cornwall in the Tamar Cup this time last year really progressed his career.

“That was the first time I got to play in front of Graham (Dawe),” said Searle. “I think that was one of the games that got me in the Cornwall team. It was one of those games where I took my chance and I’ve never looked back.

“It’s been a good 12 months, but it has flown by really.”

Searle, who missed out on an England Under-20 call-up, is keen to play for Cornwall again this year.

“I’m definitely keen to play for Cornwall,” he said. “We had our first training session the other night. Hopefully, we can do the same as last year and get to Twickenham.”

Meanwhile, Albion captain and fellow Cornwall player Jake Murphy will be struggling to feature again for Plymouth this season after breaking his hand in training.

Murphy has been told he will be out for four weeks, meaning he will miss the club’s games against Ampthill, Wharfedale and Loughborough. It remains to be seen if he will recover in time for their final two matches against Hartpury College and Richmond.

“We thought he might just be out for two weeks but it is going to be more like four or five, but he doesn’t need an operation,” said director of rugby Dawe.

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