New Melton RFC head coach Mike Holford backs young guns

Former Leicester Tigers prop Mike Holford is braced for his first league game as Melton RFC head coach EMN-191009-171522002
Former Leicester Tigers prop Mike Holford is braced for his first league game as Melton RFC head coach EMN-191009-171522002
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A new chapter will begin on Saturday when Melton RFC First XV kick off their latest league campaign under head coach Mike Holford.

The long-serving Leicester Tigers prop has taken charge of a young side champing at the bit to prove themselves after last season’s relegation from Midlands One East.

Holford is enjoying the challenge of developing a fledgling senior squad EMN-191009-171511002

Holford is enjoying the challenge of developing a fledgling senior squad EMN-191009-171511002

While Midlands Two East (South) will be a slight step down in intensity, Holford still expects a big challenge for his hungry squad.

They begin the new campaign on the road at Market Bosworth – a testing run of three away fixtures in league and cup.

“I am not really sure what the level of the league is like yet, but there will be some well-drilled sides and teams that have played together for years,” he said.

“This is a new team which has been put together over the next 18 months, but I think we will be competitive and will be one of the better sides in this league.”

While Holford carries the confidence of an unblemished blank canvas, he is not ready to set targets in a league he has yet to experience first hand.

He recognises the importance of a strong start for a squad which won just twice in the league last year, but for now is setting his sights on the bigger prizes in the longer term.

“I just want to be competitive and consolidate,” he explained.

“I’d like to be top four, but without putting a number on it, I want to be competitive, to progress and develop as team and as a club.

“Of course we will be looking to win every game and go as far as we can in the national cup.

“If we can get a few wins under our belt in September then we’ll gain more confidence and progress our style of play.

“We have three away games in the first month which will be a test, but I’m confident we can do well.

“I want to play in the right way, and try and build the club so we can get as many people down here as possible.”

While still relatively lacking in senior rugby experience, Holford believes his players will have gained plenty from last season’s baptism of fire.

Almost twelve months ago a mass of squad departures soon forced then coach Gareth Collins to blood a sizable quantity of talented Colts into the unforgiving environment of Midlands One rugby.

“It is a young side who are growing up pretty quickly,” Holford added.

“They are really keen to learn and have bought into what we’re trying to do. I’m not having to teach old dogs new tricks.

“They are a work in progress, but developing fast, and in the future the club will be in safe hands with these lads.”

Pre-season friendlies have allowed the new man at the helm to work through some different strategies as he seeks to instil a clear direction for his new squad.

Holford was initially brought in as forwards coach to support backs specialist Collins who was then offered the vacant head coach role at Leicester Lions.

Unsurprisingly, plenty of work has gone in to improve Melton’s set piece and fundamentals during the two months of pre-season.

But Holford has also brought in Nottingham RFC centre Will Millet as assistant coach to harness a talented backs division.

He said: “I know Neil Fowkes (head coach) at Nottingham and he suggested Will who is very keen to learn.

“Nottingham don’t play on Saturdays, so he will be available to come down for most of our games. He’s a very good, exciting young coach.

“Being a front five forward, I want a strong set piece to build foundations, but we have an exciting, quick back line so I think we’ll try to play quite wide.”