HERBIE STUPPLE may have been appointed Plymouth Albion’s club captain for the 2016/17 season but he knows he cannot take his place for granted.
The 25-year-old started every match for Albion last term, as did fellow back-rower Nile Dacres.
But competition for places in the back five of the scrum for the new campaign will be hot, with Stupple, Dacres, Dan Collier, Ed Holmes and Cameron Thompson re-signing for the club from last term and George Mills, Dan Williams, Rupert Cooper and Todd Prisk arriving.
Mills, Williams and Cooper started in the back-row in Albion’s opening pre-season match on Tuesday night against Exmouth, with Dacres and Prisk in the second-row.
Stupple, Holmes and Collier came on at half-time as Albion ran out 62-5 winners at the Imperial Ground over last season’s National Three South West champions.
Albion ran in 10 tries in total – four in the first half and six in the second.
Dacres (2), Mills and Cooper were all on the try sheet, as were former Brixham backs Matt Crosscombe (2) and Dean Squire, plus Matt Shepherd (2) and Seti Raumakita.
Former Cinderford player Mills, Devon star Williams and ex-Nottingham forward Cooper impressed as a back-row in the first half.
Stupple is aware he will have to work hard to keep his place.
“With all these new players coming into the pack, it has only strengthened it,” said the Cornwall player.
“It just means competition will be higher now, which isn’t a bad thing. It should push us all more.”
As well as Prisk, Cooper, Mills, Williams, Crosscombe and Squire, fellow summer signings Dan Powell (Exmouth), Kieran Hallett (Cornish Pirates), Clement Le Roy (France), Sam Nixon (London Scottish Academy), Jamie Salter (Launceston) and Will Norton (dual-registered, Exeter Chiefs) also started at Exmouth on Tuesday night, while Billy Keast (dual-registered, Exeter Chiefs) came on at half-time.