It seems like an eternity since Macclesfield Blues narrowly beat local rivals Fylde in the final game of their National League 1 campaign. Well, the waiting’s finally over. This weekend Macclesfield Blues kick off their National League 2 campaign with a home fixture against fellow promotion contenders Darlington Mowden. In an ideal world it would have been preferable to start the season with a less competitive fixture, but we are where we are, so we’ll just have to get on with it. Besides, a game like this will ensure that the Blues hit the ground running. That’s what Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, wanted anyway. If the Blues manage to come out of this game with all the points then we’ll all have a clearer idea how the rest of the season will pan out. Here’s what Geoff had to say about this weekend’s opening fixture.
Are you looking forward to finally getting the season under way this weekend at Priory Park?
“Oh, very much so. I’m really excited about finally playing competitively. We’re in good shape and good heart, and I think it’s safe to say that Saturday can’t come soon enough for us.”
Did you learn anything new from the final pre-season friendly at Rossendale?
“Well, all told it was a brilliant day. Although the side wasn’t entirely complete in terms of personnel, it was still a very useful workout for us. Elliot Brierley is still away and Ed Stobart is still injured. On top of that we’re still waiting for Francois Bester and Chas Ianson to join us. So when we get all those players back it will be interesting to see how we perform. Apart from that I’d have to say it was a good day all round. Forget the fact that we managed to score eight or nine tries, what really pleased me was the way we played. We looked comfortable with the system we were playing and our physicality just got better and better as the day wore on.”
“I thought Matt O’Regan looked particularly good: he was sharp and very physical which can only bode well for the rest of the season. Tom Eaton, too, looked sharp and commanding. We’ve missed his game management. He knows exactly how I want us to play, and he has the ability to bring other players into the game. I should also mention our Seconds who travelled away to Caldy. Yes I know they lost 3 tries to nil. But when you consider that our depleted second team was playing against what was pretty much a full strength National 2 side, I think their performance was all-the-more remarkable. That’s what you call spirit and commitment.”
What are you expecting when Darlington Mowden visit Priory Park at the weekend?
“Well, I’m expecting a tough match naturally, but it’s like all of these things – you just can’t be sure what you’ll face. From what I can gather they had a decent campaign last season. They’ve got a good set of backs with pace, but tended to struggle upfront, or so I’m told. That’s something they’ve been addressing over the closed season and they’ve recruited well. I think they’ve got genuine expectations for this season, so if we want to take anything from the game we’ll have to be at our best. There’s no doubt that they’ll be a serious test, and I have to say I’m looking forward to it.”
What’s your strategy likely to be?
“I’ve always believed that the best strategy in rugby is to concentrate on your own game. Some coaches tend to focus on the opposition, but I don’t think that’s beneficial or helpful: like they say, sometimes a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. You can’t worry about the make-up of other teams because for the large part you don’t really know enough about them – well, certainly not at this stage of the season. You could make plans for the opposition and play in a way to negate their strengths, but I think that can be counter-productive. As far as I’m concerned it’s much better to concentrate on your own game and play to your strengths. That as far as I can see is a much more honest way to play the game.”
“As far as the rest of the campaign is concerned, we’ll be concentrating on consistency of performance. There can be a tendency to treat some games as more important than other, but we won’t fall into that trap. Every game is worth 5 points potentially, so every game should be approached in the same manner.”