What do you do when you want to recruit the best players for your team? Well, if you’re one of the big-spending rugby clubs, the answer seems to be you throw money at the problem. However, if you’re working to a tight budget that option just isn’t available to you. What you have to do instead is recruit strategically. That’s the problem Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, has had to deal with in this pre-season. He’s looked to recruit the best players available for Macclesfield Blues, but has been constrained to some extent by the budget that was available. So his solution to the problem was to search out the best local talent, and from what Macclesfield Rugby has heard he’s done fine job too. So who will be coming to Priory Park this season? Here’s what Giles had to say.
What’s the thinking behind your recruitment this season?
“The key driver in recruitment this year is to bring in a number of players so that we’ve got competition for places throughout the squad. That has meant we’ve recruited strategically. We haven’t got the biggest budget, so that factor determines who and where you can recruit from. It’s also meant that we weren’t in a position to recruit lads who’d been playing in the Premiership or the Championship. What we’ve done instead, therefore, is look to recruit lads who fit into the type of rugby we’re looking to play and lads who’ll fit in with the culture of the Club.”
“I’ve worked with all the players we’ve recruited with the exception of Greg who’s come to us highly recommended, so know they all fit this profile perfectly. I know what we’re getting, and just as importantly they know what they’re getting into too. We’ve also tried to recruit locally and to grow the squad organically, so all the new squad members with the exception of Ollie Fewtrell and Luke Frisou who are from Derbyshire, are local lads. My aim this year is to give the players more autonomy. I’ll set out the game plan and leave them to get on with it on the pitch. I think the players we’ve got in this year’s squad are more than capable of delivering that plan.”
So who is coming to Priory Park this season, and what’s their background?
“Elliot Mills is a tight head we’ve signed from Stockport. Elliot’s a player I worked with a few years ago when he was still playing back row, so I know a good deal about him. He then made a decision to move to prop and play at Manchester. He trained with us a little last year, but opted to go and play at Stockport where he quickly became their starting tight head. Having watched him play a little bit in pre-season we’re really quite excited about this prospects. It will be interesting to see how he fares competing for the tight head jersey with Billy Robinson. He’s very dynamic, and though he may not be as tall as Billy, he can bring something new to our game. I think he’ll prove to be a valuable addition to the squad.”
“Ben Jones is a second row we’ve been fortunate to pick up from Caldy. Ben has already played for me at Wilmslow, and he’s also been involved in the Cheshire Under 20s. He went to Caldy last year and was in and around the first team squad. He came into that squad when one of the first choice second rows got injured, and then went on to make the starting jersey his own. Obviously he’ll face tough competition for a starting birth with the likes of Dean, Jonny Kenny and Josh de Groot and Dave Marwick, but I think he’s capable of holding his own. He’s a very good lineout operator and gets about the park well. He’ll be joining us later for pre-season training, but I’m really looking forward to working with him again.”
“Luke Frisou is a back row we’ve recruited from Cypress. Matt King knows him well, having played alongside him. Luke’s just been away with England County Under 20s, and he’s very exciting prospect indeed. He’s arguably the most physical and muscular member of the squad, and given what we’ve seen of him in pre-season so far, we think he could really do some damage over the course of the season. It’s great to have such an exciting player joining the squad, and it’s also great to have another international in the squad too. Cypress might not be the first team you think of when you’re talking about international rugby, but at one stage they were the world record holders for unbeaten games.”
“Ollie Chambers and I go back a long way. I first met him at Manchester and also had dealings with him with Cheshire Under 20s. He’s been in and around Macclesfield for some time, and spent some time with in pre-season last year and the year before. Unfortunately he was away at Nottingham University, playing for us regularly wasn’t really convenient. He played some of his rugby on loan to a club in National 3 in the Nottingham area whilst he was there. But he’s back now permanently, and as a local lad he’s got a good feel for the Club and what we’re trying to achieve. Ollie and Jordan Brookes are similar players in some ways, but I think the competition for the number 9 jersey will prove to be good for both of them. Ollie has a good rugby brain, and fantastic game management, so I’ve no doubt that will add something new to our game.”
“Greg Newton is a midfield back who’ll be joining us from Stockport. Greg’s been at Stockport for round about 10 years, so has been playing at a very good level for some time. I’ve not worked with Greg before, but everyone I’ve spoken to speaks incredibly highly of him. What we’ve seen in pre-season so far, confirms why he was so lauded. What makes Greg so valuable is his versatility. He can play anywhere from 12 outwards. He’s also got good feet and quick hands, and understands what we’re trying to achieve here, so we know he’ll be a great addition to the squad.”
“Ollie Fewtrell is in my opinion one of the most underrated players I’ve ever worked with. He played England County Under 18s with me last year, so I know him well. He’s a very talented centre, and a great passer who can play 12 or 13 equally effectively. He’s big and powerful and has great distribution skills. He’s also keen to learn and just wants to get better, and that’s exactly what you want from your players. I’m really excited that Ollie will be joining our squad this season.”
“Rhodri Mayor is a back 3 specialist we’ve also brought in. He’s been at Sale FC and has been in and around the Scotland Under 20 set up for a while now. He’s an exciting prospect who will fit in well with the squad. Matt Smith will also be joining us from Longton. He’s a young back rower, and from what I’ve seen in training so far, he could be really special.”