Following on from last week’s news about player recruitment, Macclesfield Rugby can proudly bring more exciting news about the make-up of the squad for the 2012-12 campaign. Director of Rugby and Head Coach, Geoff Wappett, has spent what you can loosely call the ‘summer’ scouring the region and using his considerable powers of persuasion to amass a squad that not only has strength, depth and experience, but is also full of youth and promise. Alan Hansen once regrettably uttered the fateful words– ‘you can’t win anything with kids’: naturally he’s regretted it ever since as United did. But it’s not what you achieve that really matters in Geoff’s opinion: it’s how you achieve it. Geoff isn’t claiming that our new squad will sweep all before it, but what he is confident about is that he has built a squad that will develop and grow and be a threat in National League One for the next few years. Macclesfield Blues can now boast strength in depth, which means increased competition for places. That has to bode well for the future. This week Geoff talks to Macclesfield Rugby about youth development and introduces us to some of the young talented players who’ll be wearing the blue jersey with pride this year.
Why have you placed such an emphasis on youth and development rather than only bringing in proven experience?
“The problem with National One rugby is that it’s increasingly becoming a young man’s game. All the travelling up and down the country makes it difficult for any player with family or work commitments. It’s important that Clubs like Macclesfield now start to attract those younger players who have hopes and aspirations. If we want to achieve as a Club, we’ll need them: if they want to achieve and progress in the game, then a Club like the Blues is ideal for them.”
“The young players we’ve attracted like Tom Cruse will come here and try to kick the door down, and help us to play the sort of rugby I’ve been striving to achieve in my time here. They can help Macclesfield Rugby Club progress. For our part, if we can lend a hand in helping on their journey up the ranks, then we’re delighted. That’s why we were so pleased that Fergus and Charlie have been offered an opportunity to play in the Championship with Rotherham, though obviously we were also disappointed to lose them. What that should show other young players in the area is that if they come to us, we can help to develop their potential, and put them on a stage where other Clubs will see them and give them an opportunity to move up in the game.”
So, apart from young Tom Cruse, who will be wearing Blue this coming season?
“We’re bringing in Andy Walker, a scrum half/fly half from Wilmslow. He’s a young Scots lad who came down to the region last season. He’s a young man with great potential. He’s currently training to become a solicitor in Altrincham. He’s a real top buy in my opinion. I’ve no doubt he’ll make massive progress over the season and will be a fantastic addition to the squad.”
“Matt King will also be joining us. He’s a wing/full back with a great all-round game. Not only is he a great kicker, he’s also got real pace – and I mean ‘real’ pace. He’s got a great pair of wheels and looks very impressive with ball in hand. I’m sure he’ll be a hit with the supporters.”
“Sam Marland is another young lad who’ll be joining the team. Sam’s a local lad from Cheadle Hulme, who was also a Sale Academy player, and attended Myerscough College last year after encouragement from Pete Angelsea and Ray Unsworth. He trained with us last summer, but unfortunately his agent got him a contract in Italy. Now I didn’t necessarily think that was the best thing that could’ve happened to him, but he’s come back now.”
“This boy is a ‘real’ talent. I saw it in him right away: I was really excited with the prospect of him playing with us, and was very disappointed when he went over to Italy. He’s one hell of a goal kicker and can kick out of hand extraordinarily well. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also got terrific pace. All we have to careful of is that we don’t rush him. I know in my heart that he’ll make the grade eventually, but his introduction into the team has to be carefully managed. I’ll see how he does in the pre-season games, but I think he’s already a real challenger for a starting place.”
“Joe Clowes is another back row forward who’ll be joining us. He was at Leicester Academy, but the Tigers have just released him. If there’s a problem it’s that he’s probably just not big enough at this stage to play Premiership Rugby. Still, he’s only 19 at the moment and that’s Macclesfield’s gain as far as I’m concerned. He may not be the biggest guy, but he’s a real hustler and bustler around the park with great attitude. He’ll be travelling over from Leek each week, and I got very high hopes for him.”