Recruitment and retention: who’s leaving and who’s coming in?

With the start of National League 2 North just weeks away, it’s about time Macclesfield Rugby caught up with Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, to find out how preparations are going. Naturally at this time of year the supporters’ thoughts turn to who’s leaving Priory Park and who’s coming in to replace them. Well, although the Blues are still waiting on news of one of two players who might be joining the team in the coming weeks, here’s what Giles is able to tell us so far.

How many of last year’s National 1 side have you managed to retain?

“We’ve managed to retain all but 3 of last year’s squad which is good news. Chris Jones has retired and has joined the coaching staff, Phil Williams has headed off to Sandhurst and Olly Fewtrell is going into his last year at University so he’s going to concentrate on that. We knew about Chris and Phil before the end of last season, so there are no surprises there, but Olly’s departure is disappointing, but it’s a decision I can fully accept. Coming over from Leeds twice a week plus match days is a lot to ask of a player, particularly when he’s studying hard. So he has our blessing as it were.”

How about player recruitment: which new faces are coming in?

“As you know we’ve signed Marshall Gadd as a player/coach for the season which is fantastic for us. We spoke at length later on last season about the great things he’d done for us in the short time he was on loan at the Club. Now he’s made a decision to come out of professional rugby, and fortunately for us he’s decided that Macclesfield’s the club he wants to play at. He’s still coming back from his foot injury, but he’s working really hard and he looks the fittest I’ve seen him. He’s already doing some good stuff with the forwards so I’m very pleased with that.”

“Ryan Parkinson will also be joining us again. It’s a case of the prodigal son returning in a sense. It came about as a result of a fortuitous conversation between us when we were catching up: he asked the question and I asked a question, and before we knew it he was back in the fold. I’m really pleased about this. Ryan’s a great player, and in truth, we probably missed him a little bit last year in terms of his dynamism and attack. That’s obviously not to take anything away from the boys that did play, but a player of Ryan’s calibre is someone you’re always going to want in your squad, and it’s just great to have him back.”

Are you looking to bring in anyone else?

“We’re still in the market for a couple more players, and we’re in advanced discussions with 1 or 2. But we’re in the very fortunate position where we don’t really need to bring that many in. We’re going to be having a few young lads joining us. A couple have come for trials in pre-season, and I would expect them to get a contract if the pre-season games go well. We’re still in discussions about a couple more positions where we’d like a little more strength in depth.”

“Ideally we’d have liked everything sown up before the end of last season, or at worst in place before the start of pre-season, but things rarely go according to script. Recruitment in this league is difficult. We’re working in a tight market with lots of North West-based National 2 teams looking at the same players. None of us has a great deal of money to spend, so we’re all competing for the same small pool of players. So we’ll just have to wait and see. As soon as there’s more concrete news I’ll let you know.”

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