Hope praises commitment of his players

STAYING UPBEAT: Tony Hope has said a large part of his role is keeping the players motivated and determined
STAYING UPBEAT: Tony Hope has said a large part of his role is keeping the players motivated and determined

Haverhill & District RFC head coach Tony Hope has said one of his most important tasks is keeping the team’s spirits up, following another extensive defeat.

The Eastern Counties Greene King Division One West side have had a tough season so far, after a lot of their first-team squad moved on over the summer for a variety of reasons, from relocation to work and family commitments.

It has meant they have been forced to field many regular second-team players and youngsters, as the points stack up against them.

The misery was further compounded on Saturday, with a 74-9 home loss to Bury St Edmunds Rovers III.

Hope said: “You have to stay upbeat really. Firstly, the score wasn’t reflective, it was closer than that suggests. I don’t like to criticise referees but I did feel he missed a lot.

“But, despite that, Bury were very well drilled and played fantastically.

“One of the hardest things to do is to keep the players interested and wanting to play when you’re getting these results.

“And so we work out what went wrong and focus the next week’s training on improving that.

“The idea is to always be pushing forward and looking to improve, and I feel we’re doing that.

“And, I have to say, most of the players don’t need my motivation, they’re passionate and determined.

“They want to step up to this level and are prepared to put in the time and effort, I’ve been very impressed by the commitment shown.”

He said one of the weakest areas on the pitch was in the backs, describing it as the team’s ‘Achilles heel’.

“You can’t fault them for their efforts,” he said. “But it’s been hardest for them at this level.

“They’re improving as they learn and it’s great to see them wanting to get better.”

The team have a break this weekend but will next travel to fellow bottom-table club Saffron Walden II (3pm).

The game is crucial for both sides, neither of whom have managed to gain any points in their opening five fixtures.

Hope said it would be a ‘competitive game’ as he described it as ‘very important’.