England coach lends a hand with Morley’s play-off preparation

Stuart Lancaster on the pitch with Morley players as he took a training session at Scatcherd Lane.
Stuart Lancaster on the pitch with Morley players as he took a training session at Scatcherd Lane.

Morley RFC players have been given a little extra help ahead of their winner take all promotion play-off at Kirkby Lonsdale this Saturday.

The Maroons players were honoured to have been given a training session by former England head coach Stuart Lancaster at the Scatcherd Lane ground.

Stuart generously gave up an evening of his free time to lead a gruelling training session last week and there was an excellent response from the players as more than 30 turned up to be put through an interesting and demanding 90 minutes in which they were able to pick up some tips that can turn out to be valuable in the big game to come.

As well as the players, coaches from the adults and junior section were also invited to attend and there was something for everyone to watch and learn.

The evening finished with a debriefing session in the bar with Stuart discussing aspects of the game with Morley coaches Colin Stephens, Mark Chester and Mark Burrow.

The players will now be looking to put into practice what they were taught as they face Kirkby Lonsdale. Their whole season comes down to this game as they look to earn promotion into the first level of the National Leagues – National 3 North.

Christian Head, Varundev Sambhi, Nick Green, Joe Firth, Bradley Marshall and Olisa Ufodirma are all unavailable, but head coach Stephens does have suitable alternatives and has a problem all coaches like on who to leave out with plenty of options.

Coach Colin Stephens will have selection worries of the sort all coaches enjoy – who to leave out.

The front row will be a torrid place on Saturday. Battling it out to be there will be Alan Benn, Josh Greatrix, James Dinsdale, Rory Mason and Ben Bell. The second row places are likely to be contested by Will Smyth, Tom Richmond and Sam Brown while the back-row will be three out of Luke Watts, Josh Longson, Ollie Flegg, Mike Ashford and Brandon Hannam.

Selection of the pack will be made more difficult due to the ability of several players to play in several positions. Mike Ashford, Ollie Flegg and Sam Brown can play equally well in a number of positions.

The half-backs, Mark Chester and Kenny Sewell, probably pick themselves, although Harri Collier, Sean Dadswell and Harrison Baylis can fill in if needed. The full-back berth is probably reserved for local favourite Dante van der Merwe with the wings being chosen from Karl Bradshaw, Andy Funnell and Harrison Baylis. The centre spots will come from Iain Sim, Scott Glynn, Laurence Frantzis, Harri Collier, Richard Knowles and Johnny Sykes.

Waiting in the wings, although probably not for this match, there stand a group of young players from Morley junior section who would be more than willing to step into the team. Youngsters such as Ed Kelly, Luke Baylis and Eddy Sparks have all gained valuable experience playing in the first team and will all be fighting for a starting place next season.

It is a tough job and no doubt some players will be disappointed to be left on the sidelines. However, the task is to pick the best team to gain promotion to the National Leagues and Stephens will be focussed on achieving that.

Morley will be running coaches to Kirkby Lonsdale and there are still some seats left. They will leave the ground by 10.45am on Saturday and the cost is £10 a seat. Places can be booked via the club on 0113 2533487, by adding your name to the list in the lobby or by contacting Ian Jowett on 07795167143 or emailing ic.jowett@ntlworld.com