With pre-season just four weeks away we caught up with Hamish (H) and Aaron (A) ahead of their season as captain and vice-captain respectively, to get their thoughts on the coming season.
Q) Evening gents, we’re now a long way into the Summer, how have you enjoyed the break from university? More importantly have you been putting the hours in to make sure you can lead from the front next season?
H: Summer has been good. Recovered from a couple of injuries early on, been competing horses quite a lot which, coupled with a good gym programme, should mean I’m hitting preseason in good shape.
A: I’ve missed the lads, of course, but I’ve been at the gym as often as possible looking to improve, and hopefully when we meet for preseason that’ll be the finishing touches and I’ll be ready to go!
Q) Obviously you both have an important position in the club as we complete the transition this season, what challenges do you anticipate facing in the coming year?
H: Trying to motivate the lads in the gym and on the training pitch is always going to be an important role for myself. That and keeping my head up when things aren’t going our way in matches.
A: On a personal level, I’m looking to make sure I can channel my aggression into positive performances. I also want to ensure I can welcome new people to the club and help them settle in.
Q) With the provisional leagues being announced, which matches are you looking forward to in particular?
A: All of them, but especially Worcester if we get to play them this year! We were unhappy with a couple of things they did in the matches. (See picture below)
H: Derby. After three matches struggling to cope with their superior side, our fourth meeting was a lot closer and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to maybe finally better them!
Q) Speaking of the league, how do you rate our chances next year? With potential teams like Loughborough and the UEA in our division, do you anticipate a tougher season compared to last year, or about the same?
A: I think it will be a bit harder this year, but we’re going to prepare better this year and work harder so I’m more excited too.
H: It’ll be a tougher season for sure, but we’ve got a bigger core of leaders and our preparation this season will be a lot more professional. A number of the boys will be coming back into camp off of solid training throughout Summer.
Q) You’ve mentioned a core of existing players returning, but just how important will it be to have a solid recruitment drive this season?
H: Recruitment will be key. It will create healthy competition for places and add the strength in depth we badly need in key positions.
A: I agree, new faces will definitely help. We reached a point last season where we were working hard, but a competition for places will ensure no one takes their foot of the gas.
Q) Finally, what do you have to say to any prospective players who are on the fence about playing rugby for Staffs in the 2017/18 season?
A: Rugby was one of the main reasons I could stay at university in first year. Everyone goes through the worrying phase of moving away from home for the first time, but the friends I’ve made at rugby are for life and helped me through any phases I had. Plus, it’s a great laugh, but we also work hard and we want to win – now more than ever.
H: The lads in the team are a different class. After having a serious injury and being told I’d never be able to play again, I’m honoured to have been made captain for the coming season. It had really hit home for me how important these boys are. Not just from a rugby perspective but from a personal one: These guys are family.