North Wales Rugby Previews: Shotton Steel and Wrexham in weekend action

Reporter:

Daniel Heald

SHOTTON STEEL coach Mike Roberts believes his side are reaping the benefits of a positive ‘recruitment and retention’ policy at the club.

Roberts, who took over as Steelmen coach in the summer has enjoyed a successful tenure so far, with his side currently second in Division Two North.

This weekend Shotton are in WRU Bowl third round action against Cardiff side Glais and Roberts hopes his players can maintain their strong recent form.

He said: “Things have been going really well this season and a lot of that is down to the players buying into what we’re doing here.

“The club has done pretty well in recent seasons and has been on the cusp of promotion before injuries have seen them fall a bit short late on.

“Players have left the club in that time and we’ve had a look at not only attracting new players to us but also retaining our key players too.

“So we managed to add two or three to the squad and changed the structure of training in pre-season. We moved away from a fitness-centred approach and focused more on skills and possession.

“That’s helped us and we’ve seen 17 and 18-year old lads like Nathan Bennett go from being on the fringes of the team to being one of the first names on the team sheet now.

“Morale hasn’t been this high at the club for a long time, so we’re not setting any targets for ourselves this season. We just want to play the best rugby that we possibly can and see where it takes us.”

An ex-forces man, Roberts retains connections with South Wales, where he was previously based, and has had tomorrow’s opponents scouted.

“I’ve had a couple of mates watch them for me and have heard a couple of reports on them.

“From what I hear they’re strong up front and they have a couple of good backs.

“Our scrummage is something we’ve worked on and we’ve got a good young athletic pack. Hopefully we’ll see our pack take the game by the scruff of the neck and drive us forward.

“Richard Smith and Rob Middleton have both been outstanding in our second row too and we’ll need a big performance from them.

“We’ve had a massive boost after winning at Llanidloes last week and we take a lot of confidence into this game.”

Influential centre Dan Lynskey remains absent for Shotton with injury, while vice captain Huw Seargeant looks set to return at number eight.

Wrexham will look to build on their successive league victories in their third round clash against visiting Nant Conwy Seconds at Bryn Estyn Lane.

Other third round ties involving northern and mid-Walian clubs see Rhyl make their way to the capital to tackle Cardiff University, Cobra host Crymych and Newtown are at home to Whiteheads.

Email:

daniel.heald@nwn.co.uk

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