In last week’s column, I confirmed that I had re-joined Hoppers and the club’s rugby committee. Firstly, thanks for all the messages of support – and advice.
If I needed a reminder that Hoppers is a special club, then the number of people getting in touch reaffirmed that there is an army of members and supporters keen to help in any way they can.
I have been working with the club for several weeks to prepare for next season.
I have been involved in the recruitment process for a new off-the-field team and the response we had to advertising opportunities at Lightfoot Green has been reassuring.
This is the second time I have been involved in this process and as last time, the weight of the Grasshoppers name has ensured that quality applicants have come from far and wide.
Individuals with impressive CV’s and track records from across the UK and overseas – such as South Africa – have applied. Given the wide-ranging nature of the applicants it has taken time to assess the various candidates and do the necessary due-diligence.
So, whilst the club wants to get on and make its appointments it is vital that we are thorough in what we do.
As the saying goes – act in haste, repent at leisure.
However, taking time to decide does allow the rumour mill to go into overdrive. I always find it amusing how suddenly some people think they are “in the know” on such occasions.
I’ve had people come up to me convinced they know who the club are talking to and who is going to be appointed. When you know for a fact that they are wrong it can make those conversations somewhat challenging!
Someone remarked to me the other day that they noted that I am connected to both Warren Gatland and Clive Woodward on social media. Probably best if clarify that position by saying that whilst both are quality candidates, on this occasion they haven’t made the shortlist.
But that’s the way the world is these days. Everybody wants immediate answers and information and if they don’t get it then some will almost make it up. Lightfoot Green, on that basis, is not immune to the way these things work.
Another obvious priority area is the playing squad.
I was happy to learn that most of the current squad are already contracted for next season and that stability will be important.
Learning from past mistakes in any organisation is vital and I think it is fair to say that over the last few seasons, the turnover of players and poor off season periods have been detrimental to how the club has then fared in the following campaign.
I am determined that the upcoming off season will be a positive experience for everyone in the club. We will make our appointments, recruit to add experience and quality where it is needed in the playing squad and build on a talented young squad who will be older and wiser for the season they have just experienced.
That core of young players is the long-term future of the club and they are at the very heart of what I will be trying to do at the club.
Improving them as players and people will be the responsibility of myself and the new coaching team. I’ve always been player-centric in my approach and that will continue.
I will also be making it clear that as a club we won’t be a soft touch this time around to those influences that seek to undermine us.
The regulations that all clubs must adhere to are clear when it comes to player movement.
It is a real bugbear of mine that lots of clubs and individuals operating in rugby union’s semi-professional environment still have this attitude of the rules and regulations don’t apply to them.
I am not naïve to what goes on and how the game is played in that respect.
But the regulations are clear and unambiguous and I won’t hesitate to take the appropriate action if I believe our interests are being jeopardised by the improper behaviour of others.
It is vital we get a strong tight-knit playing squad who all want to pull on the Hoppers shirt. Empowering those players to create the right culture and approach requires time and most importantly trust amongst everyone who is part of the dressing room.
Knowing most of the lads already involved I am confident that with a bit of help here and there they will rise to the challenge.
As the phrase goes “Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.”
I look forward to the collective rolling up of sleeves.