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Diss Rugby Club head coach Nick Greenhall boosts squad with seven arrivals




Head coach Nick Greenhall has moved to ‘freshen things up’ within his senior Diss squad thanks to the arrival of seven players.

The septet includes six new additions, while Toby Drake has been promoted from the club’s colts section.

Two front-rowers, in George Ainge and Matt Bailey, have been recruited from Ipswich and Thetford respectively, while back-rower Liam Clarke joins having previously worked alongside Greenhall at North Walsham.

Rugby action from Diss v Wanstead..head coach Nick Greenhall..Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2019. (35525536)
Rugby action from Diss v Wanstead..head coach Nick Greenhall..Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2019. (35525536)

Fly-half Harry Stenton – once of Thetford – comes in after a stint at Leeds University, and another player from the Mundford Road-based side – number 12 or 13 Ryan Gardiner – has agreed a switch to Mackenders.

Centre Todd Wishart is also back after a spell in Cambridgeshire with Shelford.

“It is terrific to have been able to bring in so many new faces,” said Greenhall.

RUGBY - Thetford (TD) v Thurston (TN)..Pictured: Ryan Gardiner (TD) scores a try....PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (35525554)
RUGBY - Thetford (TD) v Thurston (TN)..Pictured: Ryan Gardiner (TD) scores a try....PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (35525554)

“It is always important to freshen things up and that is what we have managed to do.

“This gives us the chance to find some new leaders and it will also spice things up a bit on the training field.

“We like to have a group of around 35 players that are committed to training each week and these additions will help us to achieve that, as well as adding plenty on the pitch at the same time.

“We have already got a few older and experienced players – these additions are mainly younger players. I am sure they will quickly understand how we want to play and will learn from the senior players. There is plenty of potential.”

Thetford Rugby Club v Newmarket Rugby Club ..Harry Stenton passing for Thetford..Picture Mark Westley. (35525606)
Thetford Rugby Club v Newmarket Rugby Club ..Harry Stenton passing for Thetford..Picture Mark Westley. (35525606)

While Greenhall has high hopes for all of the newcomers, there are two in particular he expects to play a key role during the next London 2 North East campaign.

“Ryan, along with Todd in the midfield, are players we will be looking to be attacking threats and to provide some creativity,” said Greenhall, who was appointed Diss chief last summer.

“They will have key roles because as well as that, we will need them to be solid defensively and provide some crucial communication.”

Of the rest of his additions, Greenhall added Ainge was a “strong front-rower with good handling skills” while Bailey will help to make his side stronger at the set piece.

RUGBY - Thetford v Wisbech..Pictured: Matt Bailey...PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (35525569)
RUGBY - Thetford v Wisbech..Pictured: Matt Bailey...PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (35525569)

As for Clarke and Stenton, the duo have been brought in not just because of their ability, but also for their organisational skills.

“Liam gives us some versatility because he plays in a number of positions,” said Greenhall.

“Communication is key in our game and he will provide plenty of that.

“It is the same with Harry. He will provide that sense of control and game management. He is not afraid to talk out on the pitch.”

Rugby- Diss v North Walsham.. Todd Wishart. (35976296)
Rugby- Diss v North Walsham.. Todd Wishart. (35976296)

Youngster Drake, meanwhile, is an exciting prospect who has represented Norfolk at age-group level.

Greenhall said: “Toby has a terrific amount of energy and plenty of balance and speed. We believe we will be able to get plenty out of him and he will only improve.”

As well as making new signings, Greenhall is also ‘confident’ the majority of the previous campaign’s squad will stay put.

However, they will be without Ben McKercher and Jack Fraser, who have returned to New Zealand and Leeds University respectively. Vice-captain Shaun Blyth, as previously reported, has left to test himself at higher-league Bury St Edmunds.

11/01/2020. Roydon, UK. ..Rugby action from Diss v Epping Upper Clapton. Shaun Blyth..Photo by Mark Bullimore. (35976337)
11/01/2020. Roydon, UK. ..Rugby action from Diss v Epping Upper Clapton. Shaun Blyth..Photo by Mark Bullimore. (35976337)

“Losing Ben and Jack is a blow but we knew that was happening and we wish them all the best,” commented Greenhall.

“And we are really pleased for Shaun. As a coach you want to improve players and if they improve so much that they have to move up some levels, that is fantastic.

“I hope it goes well for him and we are proud to see him move up.

“We are in communication with the rest of last season’s squad and I am confident most of them will be staying with us.”

Now it just remains to be seen when Greenhall and his coaching staff will be given the green light to start knitting the squad together.

Currently, all recreational team sport is suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, with no return date scheduled.

Nevertheless, that has not stopped the Diss squad from keeping themselves in shape to ensure they are best prepared for rugby’s return.

“We are currently treating this as an off-season and the lads have been doing plenty of fitness off-site,” said Greenhall.

“They are sending in their scores of the fitness tests they have been doing and our fitness coach has been on the case.

“The kickers have also been getting out doing their kicking and the same with some of the throwers. It is all done within the regulations and it keeps them ticking over.”


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