PROP Rikki Bentham has joined Devonport Services’ coaching team as the club look to build on a successful first season at level five.
Bentham will become a player-coach at the Rectory, with his main focus on the forwards and set-piece game.
He joined Services in 2020 from Launceston and helped the club to promotion before playing a key role in Devonport finishing fourth in the South West Premier last season and winning the Devon Cup.
He is now looking forward to having an even bigger role at the ambitious club, working alongside head coach Ben Russell.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Bentham. “I had a little chance last season to do a little bit of coaching but this year is the first chance to really get stuck in and have a go.”
However, Bentham knows it will not be easy to go from just a player to player-coach.
“I think it is always going to be difficult, but hopefully I can get the balance right,” he said.
“Player-coach is never going to be the easiest, but it is something I have to have a go at. Hopefully, it should be fine.”
He added: “We have to try and go one better than last season, which will be a big, big ask, but I’m pretty sure with the additions we are making and the strong squad we had last year it shouldn’t be a major issue.”
On what he hopes to bring to his new role, Bentham said: “Definitely set-piece – I love a set-piece. I think that is going to be my main focus. We have got such a dominant pack as it is that I don’t think they need too much coaching – just a little bit of guidance around the set-piece and hopefully we can dominant a bit more.”
Services head coach Russell feels Bentham will be a good addition to his backroom team.
“Rikki is a fantastic coach and you can see what he did with (Plymstock Albion) Oak ladies,” said Russell. “They have gone from 22 turning up training to 40 turning up training and he’s developed them so much.
“He knows what he is talking about. He’s a fantastic scrummaging coach, a fantastic forwards coach and hopefully he is going to add a bit more to our game and keep us striving.”
He added: “I was a forward, but if you ask me deep down, I prefer coaching the expansive, heads-up and the backs type of play.
“We are just trying something to try and improve.”
Services will open their 2023-24 season with a home game against league newcomers Matson on September 2 before visiting old rivals Okehampton the following week.