Defence is the best form of attack for new Cambridge Rugby Club coach Heath Stevens
Heath Stevens is determined to put a defensive stamp on Cambridge Rugby Club after joining the coaching team.
The 28-year-old former Coventry and London Welsh centre has been added to Richie Williams’ backroom team with the aim of making them even meaner.
Having been hampered by injury, Stevens has no cartilage in his right knee and made the decision to retire at the end of last season in order to concentrate on his coaching career.
“I can manage it,” he says. “But for me to play for another couple of years, I’m probably not going to get anything from it.
“Whereas I can pursue the coaching avenue and get on the ladder a bit earlier which I think is a positive.”
Stevens met with Cambridge director of rugby Williams to talk about the opportunities of taking up the role, and was impressed by the vision.
“I have played against Cambridge for a number of years and know it’s a great club, well-backed with great support and there are some really good coaches there to work with,” he said. “I just thought it was a good opportunity to get involved.
“Richie has a deep care of improving the person, not just the player, and also gave me the opportunity to stamp my own image on what I see the defence being and challenging my views around it and how we can make things better for the team.
“It was a really honest, open view on the game.”
The defensive aspect of the game is an area that has interested Stevens as his playing career developed, and why he has chosen to specialise in it.
“The way I played, I took control of the defence in the later years at Coventry and I really enjoyed it,” he said.
“I just think a lot of it stems around mindset and how you can challenge people in their mindset to defend and get the ball back quicker.
“I’ve really liked the collision aspect of it, the physicality side as well so I have taken that on for the last few years within my own game and really enjoyed it.
“It’s a great opportunity to lead a defence and put my stamp on it to have an effect at Cambridge.”
Stevens has already done some work with the Northampton Saints EPDG, coached the Bugbrooke senior team and helped prepare Coventry’s defence for a match against the Army last season.
“I’ve been doing a bit in the pathway at Saints which has been fantastic to be fair,” he said. “You get shadowed by some great coaches, and you get the chances to get on the field and spend time coaching some young athletes.
“The first team senior stuff at Bugbrooke was fantastic as well because it was another group to coach and get in front of but actually take a lead on.”
Those experiences will prove to be a benefit for a young squad at Volac Park, and Stevens added: “I think Cambridge is a team that’s building, and if you’ve got a young team in there then they’ve obviously got a few years to be part of that journey which is a great position to be in.
“If you supplement that with a few older heads they’ve got, I think they’re in a great spot to really progress.”