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Wharfedale coach hopes young guns will fire
Wharfedale coach Tom McGee is cautiously optimistic as the new season approaches.
With a new backs coach in Jon Feeley and record numbers at pre-season training, there is a good feeling about the club despite the departure of several young players to the professional game.
“Although any club would miss the talents who have left, let’s keep it in perspective,” said McGee.
“The four who have left made only 40 starts between them, accounting for less than 10per cent of the total.
“And even before looking at any newcomers, several players have returned to the club after some time out, raring to go.”
McGee is enthusiastic about the new players who are joining in the coming season, several from Leeds Carnegie, but others with real potential who have crept in under the radar. And with several youngsters coming through from the second-string Foresters, and some highly-promising Colts, he is looking forward to improving on last season’s tenth-place finish in National League One.
McGee sees the club’s arrangement with Leeds Carnegie as beneficial. The players are coming on dual-registration, which gives both clubs much greater flexibility.
“Leeds will have the right to call them back when required, but as the Headingley club has no second XV fixtures this season, the only Leeds games when McGee expects some of them to be called on are in the British & Irish Cup.
“Apart from that,” McGee explains, “they will be with Wharfedale all season, training and playing. And there are no strings attached. They will have to compete for a first team place just like everyone else.”
McGee is looking forward to the pre-season matches to see how his players perform ahead of the new National League One season.
This weekend the squad is off to a training camp in North Wales, then Stirling County make a second visit to the Avenue on August 11.
“Stirling is a club on the up,” says McGee. “They finished strongly in Premier One last season, and have qualified for the British & Irish Cup, where they will be playing against Championship clubs.”
Then it’s off to Edinburgh to play in a round-robin tournament at Boroughmuir, one of McGee’s former clubs, before old friends Stourbridge make a return to the Avenue on August 25 to prepare for what they hope will be an immediate return to National League One.
“This is a demanding pre-season programme, which will let us see how our young players perform in the heat of battle,” McGee added.