RAIDERS TO GIVE DEBUTS TO FIVE
PLENTY of new faces, a new set of hopes and a new approach.
Raiders fly off to Gatwick on Saturday and, like his players, Jordan Reynolds can barely wait.
But, hold on, amidst all the excitement of a line of new and potentially exciting new players, it might be advisable to take stock and examine the fixture list in London and SE Premier League (formally National 3).
If you haven’t noticed already, the first month could barely be any harder.
Reynolds has spoken to his players about it before naming this group to travel to Dorking for the opener:
Sam Steventon, Tom Ceillam, Jacob Pinkney, Lewis Hillier (c), Brad Webb, Matt Thomas, Dom Rice, Douglas Horrocks, Jake O'Connor, Joe Andresen, Naki Veamatahau, Blair Campbell, Asher Veamatahau, Matt Armstrong, Anthony Armstrong.
Replacements: Cameron Craine, Dan de Kock, Tom Teasdale.
The coach is happy with his options but just because there is plenty of quality left at home, he knows that the first game up is no ‘gimmie’.
‘I’ve told the boys that this month is probably the hardest month we will have to face all season.
‘We have got Dorking away and they have always been in the top six and are only improving every year.
‘We’ve got Brighton here, a new side that we don’t know a huge amount about, then we have got Hertford away and then Rochford.
‘This first month is really crucial because we have to hit the ground running and pick up wins.’
The coach has a fair idea as to who our big rivals will be this season.
‘I know our name has been thrown around a bit but we’ve still got a long way to go for us to be anywhere near that (top of the table).
‘There will be the Trings, the Hertfords and Rochford Hundred, a new team coming up, who have an impressive record.’
The coach has, of course, seen it all before, but the new campaign still has a stirring effect, he says.
‘It’s rugby, I’m always excited,’ he said this week.
‘The excitement comes from bringing fresh life into it after we kind of were battered around last year, and that’s really important.
‘We have had two really good “hit-outs” and got a lot more out of the inter club game than we got out of the Colchester one. It was much more physical, and it showed that our squad is reaching towards that 35 mark that we were hoping for.’
So, all seems tickety-boo. A lower level of rugby should make for (hopefully) more regular triumphs and tries. Jordan says he expects it to be easier on the bodies, if nothing else.
‘It was relentless last season but we have had a fair bit of experience in National Three and from what it looks like it will be tough, as there are a lot of really good teams.
‘But I think what you will find that whereas National 2, from top to bottom, the standard was so high, but you would hope there will be some games that are a little less hard on the body this year.
‘On paper it’s look like a really tough league but the difference is that we get six bye weekends and while some will say they’d rather just play through, trust me those at National Two level understand quickly how vital it is to have a bye weekend to rest the body.
‘Another [positive] factor is that everything is around that London area. We won’t be on a coach for three or four hours to try and get to a game. We are around familiar clubs that we know, so hopefully that will help us.’
Guernsey Raiders vs Dorking kicks off at 2:30pm on Saturday. Follow our Twitter and Facebook pages for updates throughout the game.
Meanwhile the Vikings field several Raiders regulars for their historic first League clash in Zoo Sports Shield Division Two, the game against Richmond Normans which heralds a start to competitive rugby locally this season.
With no restrictions on moving players to and from the Raiders squad this season, the Vikings are able to this week call on the services of
Layton Batiste, Chris Ahne and new winger Mike Agyei-King.
Kick off is at 1.30 pm on the old Club pitch (next to La Petite Ecole)
B. Paul, L. Gardner (capt.), L. Batiste, T. Creed, D. Harvey, M. Smith, T. Rihoy, J, Regnard; T. Quate, M. Lomas, M. Agyei-King, C. Gladstone, C. Ahne, C. Le Prevost, L. Collenette.
Replacements: N. Ashplant, T. Bray, C. Croft, A. Lock, P. De Garis, G. Lee, P. Le Noury and C. Cahill.