Mike Gillick gives Shelford an injection of young blood
Squad gets a new-look
Mike Gillick has had a busy summer shaping a new-look Shelford for the forthcoming season.
Having taken over as head coach midway through the 2017/18 campaign, Gillick helped guide them to safety in London & SE Premier in the final few matches.
He has now set about a rebuilding job at the Davey Field, breathing fresh life into the squad.
There is an abundance of new props, with Nathan Taylor and Luca Martinelli stepping up from the colts, 18-year-old Owen Miller arriving from Huntingdon and Joe Winter back in the fold after spending some time travelling and playing in New Zealand.
“Joe is really keen to come back and be part of what we’re trying to do,” said Gillick. “He will be a huge asset.
“Mark Roberts came in at Christmas time and towards the end of the season got his fitness in and looked like he could be a real asset for us.”
Mark Ryder will be back after a year out through injury, and will be joined by significant additions in the back five.
Matt Wilkinson has come in from Chinnor and was a previous England Counties under-18s captain.
“Matt is a big tackler and a big ball carrier, but also a leader which I felt we were lacking a little bit, so having young lads with leadership qualities will be good for moving the team forward,” said Gillick.
Open-side flanker Harry Rogerson has come in from Bury St Edmunds, and Gillick describes him as “a more traditional open-side and good over the ball”.
Henry Cowling, 21, has joined from Sudbury, and Gillick’s assessment of someone who has also represented Eastern Counties is “a No 8, back-row player, very attritional, big carrier and confrontational in the tackle”.
Old Persean Hugo Chambre has come back to the area after studying at Durham University, and Xander Livingston, 18, has moved over from Peterborough having previously played for Scottish Exiles.
In the backs, the new faces include Tom Duffy, Chris Benson, Jonny Williams, centre Ben Peach and youngster Aaron Haag, who played for the Eastern Counties and is looking to make the step up from Holt.
Lachlan and Doug Finlayson will also be back in the equation after struggling to commit last year.
“What we’ve really tried to do is the Shelford of old relied on having experienced, big men whereas we lost that a little bit last year,” said Gillick.
“We didn’t have the size, we had the experience, but boys were getting a little bit old.
“We’ve tried to ignite a little bit more passion and change the culture so we’ve got some young lads in there who will hopefully ruffle a few feathers and raise the bar with fitness and professional standards.”
He added: “We’re where Cambridge were four years ago financially and squad-wise, so with the right build-up and the right pre-season, and the right experiences in the next couple of seasons, I’ve got high hopes for what we’re trying to build.”
There are a number of departures though, with Redmond Newberry joining Hertford, Richy McIver and Al Whittaker taking sabbaticals and flying winger Charlie Parkhouse returning to university.