Rugby

OPMs boosted by the signing of scrum-half Davies from Oaks

DEVON One side OPMs have boosted their squad with the signing of scrum-half Lance Davies from higher league neighbours Plymstock Albion Oaks.

Davies has trained a few times with OPMs this summer and has now committed to playing for them in the 2020-21 season, whenever that might start.

“I think he wants a different challenge and it will be good for us,” said OPMs head coach Rick Orkney.

“It will give us good competition at nine. We have three good nines now, although Sammie Matts is keen to play at 10.”

OPMs do have some versatile backs and last season’s top try scorer, 18-year-old Fred Smale, will be staying around for the 2020-21 campaign after an impressive first year in men’s rugby.

“Fred Smale was our top scorer last year and was pretty close to been player of the season,” said Orkney. “I am hoping to get 20 (tries) out of him this season.

“He’s left school now and doing an apprenticeship.

“He’s so quick but was probably just a little bit slight last year and when we played the bigger, burlier teams he bounced off a couple of tackles, but I’m hoping that part of his game will come on this season and he will score even more tries for us.”

Although boosted by Davies’ signing and Smale staying, OPMs look like they might be without fly-half Mark Wratton and winger Martin Skelly this coming season. Both players have had injury issues and have indicated that they are not looking to play this term, although Skelly will remain the club’s fitness coach. Orkney, though, has not given up totally on persuading the key pair to change their minds.

“Martin’s a PE teacher and I think he has just got fed up with all the injuries,” said Orkney. “But I am hoping to persuade him to play in at least some of the games as and when we need him.

“Mark Wratton, our really good 10, broke his thumb at Torrington in the early stages of last season and it did affect him. I think it was difficult with work, but we are in regular dialogue and I haven’t given up on him.”

Orkney is hoping the club will attract further new players to strengthen their squad.

The Old Boys have been training but Orkney says they have not really stepped it up yet with no confirmed start date for the 2020-21 season. It is looking like league rugby below the Premiership will not restart until November.

“We are training just nice and steadily at the moment,” said Orkney. “We haven’t yet ramped it up to full pre-season. I don’t want to hammer the players now and then find that we are not going to be playing until November or December. I want to build momentum rather than it tailing off before even the first game.”

After finishing third in Devon One last season, OPMs will be trying to improve by increasing training during the season to two nights a week.

“We are going to be training twice a week and Martin Skelly is going to be leading some fitness sessions on a Tuesday, which he has started, and Thursday will be ball work – skills and tactics.”

Although the Old Boys are not fully into pre-season yet, Orkney has been impressed with lock/flanker Jack Mitchell and tight-head prop Bray.

“They are looking very strong at this stage and I’m expecting big things from them,” said Orkney.

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