Words Bill Hooper, photos Simon Bryant Ikitisphoto
Photo: Cornwall squad at a sunny Redruth!
Cornwall went through their paces last night (Thursday 5 May) at Redruth, ahead of Saturday’s opening game in this season’s County Championship campaign, which sees the Duchy defending the Bill Beaumont Cup thrillingly won at Twickenham last May against Lancashire.
The Cornwall Selectors have had much food for thought following Cornwall’s fine 45-10 win against Devon to retain the Tamar Cup for a fifth year.
Following a selection meeting at St Austell on Monday, the selectors were again locked in discussions last night at Redruth. My sources tell me that they are mulling over one or two positions with the bulk of the side picked.
Nineteen of the players who went to Twickenham last season were at training last night. Add to that all those players that featured in the Tamar Cup, plus players such as Sam Matavesi and Greg Goodfellow then you can see the dilemma the selectors are facing.
Photo: Graham Dawe get his point across
I spoke with Graham Dawe prior to training and asked for his thoughts on the eve of another campaign for Cornwall.
I asked him if being defending champions brought added pressure. He said: “Well yes, there is, as always, massive expectations from the Cornish public, supporters committee and selectors, but as in any campaign there is pressure, all we can do is manage that expectation and deliver.”
Dawe was delighted with the performance of the squad against Devon: “I think all the lads put their hands up to be considered for this game. I was impressed with the start and the way the set-piece went, the boys really showed pride and commitment to the shirt. I couldn’t have asked for much more.”
Dawe is taking each game as it comes without looking ahead too much. A good start on Saturday is vital to the success of the campaign: “The first game is always important. If you don’t win it then you are struggling and relying on others. Gloucestershire are always a physical side but we will concentrate on our game, putting together the components we want to play. We highlight five main components and we want to get those five right. If you get ahead of yourself in sport looking too far ahead, you find it all comes tumbling down.
Photo: Greg Goodfellow back on familiar turf
Fitness has always played an important part in Dawe’s preparations and I asked him the fact that many of the squad had been playing National league 1 rugby with him at Albion this season was a plus: “Well, you could look at it that way, but even these guys have to earn the right to play. There is no question that every Cornishman aspires to pulling on the black and gold and running out at Redruth or Camborne in front of a huge crowd that drives the lads on. We want to get the crowd behind us from the off, they have a key role to play.
“I have played here before when things haven’t gone well and they get on your back, and quite rightly so because they expect success. Last season we were under the cosh from Hertfordshire and it took a great try from Robin Wedlake and a try saving tackle from John Dawe to see us through against a good side who matched us all the way.”
STOP PRESS SIDE JUST RELEASED
CORNWALL TEAM TO PLAY GLOUCESTERSHIRE 7 MAY 2016
- Tom Cowan-Dickie, Redruth
- Rupert Freestone, Plymouth Albion
- Craig Williams, Redruth
- Ben Hilton, Cornish All Blacks
- Tony Whittle, Camborne
- Kyle Marriott, Redruth (Captain)
- Sam Matavesi, Plymouth Albion
- Herbie Stupple, Plymouth Albion
- Matt Shepherd, Plymouth Albion
- Billy Searle, Plymouth Albion
- Robin Wedlake, Plymouth Albion
- Nielson Webber, Redruth
- Sam Parsons, Redruth
- Jon Dawe, Plymouth Albion
- Jake Murphy, Plymouth Albion
Richard Brown, Redruth
Barry-John Chapman, Taunton
Damien Cook, Camborne
Chris Fuca, Redruth
Greg Goodfellow, Chinnor
Lewis Vinnicombe, Redruth
Lewis Webb, Taunton
Coaches: Graham Dawe, Ian Morgan
Strength & conditioning: James “Earpy” Earp