New Hornets coach brings fresh ideas
Manager Roger Bates is confident that the fresh ideas of new head coach Zach Baker will help Telford Hornets adjust to life in Midlands 2 West (North).
After a fine effort of three promotions in five years, first team boss Bates now stressed that the Hornets are at the ‘meaty end’ of the Midlands Leagues.
Baker has taken over from Paul Keen, who left the post after six years, due to work commitments.
And former Worcester Warriors man Baker, who also brings experience as RFU talent coach and coach educator, has gradually been working his ideas across to his new ranks throughout the summer.
“He’s got some different ideas to put forward,” admitted Bates.
“We’re gradually building on the way we played last year where there was some quite good play. We knew we would have slight changes in the line-up and changes in our style – we’re looking forward to it.”
Bates is under no illusions that Hornets should first look to achieve survival in their new division – which gets under way on Saturday with the visit of Shropshire rivals Ludlow.
“It’s been a phenomenal rise for us after three promotions in five years but we’re now at the meaty end,” the first-team manager added.
“If we manage to stay injury-free then we should be able to give a reasonable account of ourselves.
“It’s about survival for us, but we’ll aim for mid-table. Zach is young, enthusiastic and has his RFU experience.
“One of our strengths is that we can run with the ball and with that we will be strong against one or two teams.”
Mathew Bird, a flanker who featured for Hornets last season as they won the Midlands 3 West (North) title under Keen – a success dedicated to Bates who was hospitalised at the time – has committed to the club. Bates described him as a ‘significant’ player.
There has been another change as Pete Jones has stepped down from captain after five years, with No.12 Jamie Vidor taking on the armband. Bates continued: “I can see improvements already.”
Cleobury Mortimer are gearing up for life in Midlands 3 West (North) after finishing bottom of the Midlands 2 pile last term.
The south Shropshire outfit, who were promoted from Midlands 3 in 2016/17, aim to bounce back and begin at Staffordshire side Trentham.