THE 2017/18 rugby season may still be four months away, but Devonport Services already have everything in place ready to go, according to coach Mike Lewis.
Lewis will head up a new coaching team at the Rectory which will feature experienced backs Matty Anstis and Richard West.
Lewis was joint coach at Services last season with Bryan Critchon. However, Critchon stood down at the end of the campaign after six years due to family and business commitments.
And Lewis wasted no time in promoting Anstis and bringing in West, who he had previously worked with at Tavistock, from Plymstock Albion Oaks.
“We knew who it was going to be ages ago, but it was just a case of getting the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed,” said Lewis.
“We are looking forward to a new start with different coaches. The fact that Matty and Westy are both player-coaches I think will add a bit more honesty to what we’re doing.
“They are both out-and-out 10s but next season we are looking to play a bit more expansively. We tried it a bit this year and it worked quite well, but we just could not quite totally nail it.
“We were more of a carrying team in the backline. We were able to make yards but we weren’t always putting people through gaps. But this will give us another ball player.
“Matty and Westy are both fantastic ball players. They can put the ball on a plate for anyone, which is what we want.
“Both will be coaches but also want to put their hands up for first team starts. We’ll definitely be looking to get them both in the team together, but they will have to get selected and be better than the rest.”
On how the coaching set-up will be split, Lewis said: “I’ll tend to do the forwards and they’ll look at the backs and attacking structures, but it won’t be as ridged as that.
“We all get on really well together. We have all been friends for years and I think it is a real good mix. We have quite a young team and so it will be another experienced head coming in.”
He added: “We have know this was going to happen for a while, so we started putting stuff into place last season.
“We’ve planned pre-season. We have an optional off-season training session to keep boys fit. We started six weeks of that last Thursday. That will be our lead up to pre-season.”
Lewis admitted they have also lined up pre-season fixtures but they still need to be officially confirmed.
“We are all ready to go,” added Lewis.
Services finished third last season in Western Counties West. They were leading the table at Christmas but could not quite keep their form going in the second half of the campaign.
“We were pretty chuffed with what we’ve been doing,” said Lewis. “But we want to win a few more games than last year. I think we could have won five or six more.”
Services will also have a new sports therapist team next term, headed up by Andy Tucker, and are looking to put together kit packages for players.
They will also once again have a colts team next season. Anthony Lambert will be the colts’ head coach and he will be assisted by Joe Page and Tom West with Jamie Daley as team manager (pictured below).
“We have got a good group of under-16s coming through this year,” said Lewis.
“And we have managed to put together a pretty decent colts’ coaching set up.
“It will be great to see Devonport Services having a colts’ team again.”