New OA head coach expecting a ‘strong showing’ in new year

PUBLISHED: 11:25 15 June 2017 | UPDATED: 11:25 15 June 2017

Old Albanian's new head coach, Gavin Hogg.

Old Albanian's new head coach, Gavin Hogg.

Archant

New Old Albanian Rugby Club boss Gavin Hogg is delighted to be at the reins at Woollams – and believes the club have ever right to be battling at the top end of National One.

Hogg arrives after leading Bury St Edmunds to two promotions in four seasons and comes with the blessing of former OA supremo James Shanahan, one of a number of first-team sqaud members to have left the club this summer.

But even with a new-look team Hogg, who has played the game in both his native Northern Ireland and New Zealand, is excited about the challenge ahead.

The Ulsterman said: “I’ve always liked the brand of rugby played by Albanians and I’ve seen it close up a number of times in the past few seasons.

“To coach people who already ‘speak my language’ will no doubt make the transition easier.

“There should be no major changes in the expansive way we play.”

Looking ahead to how he expects the season to unfold, he said: “There will probably be three or four sides who will battle it out for a Championship place and then up to a dozen who will want a respectable league position as was achieved here last season.

“I’ve no reason to think we won’t show strongly in this company.”

Bruce Millar, director of rugby, offered his own view on the coming year and was especially excited about the appointment of the new head coach.

He said: “Although it is sad to see some of our stalwart players retire or leave for pastures new, it is always an exciting time when a new squad is formed bringing different dynamics and energy to the club.

“Gavin and his team will have some hard work in quickly assessing a number of new players during pre-season.

“The squad of 29 will be fighting for a first team spot.

“With some excellent Colts moving into the senior club it should be an interesting start to the season.”

Hogg will be joined in his coaching team by ex-Saracens lock and London Welsh coach Mark Langley and Gregg Botterman, another ex-Sarrie who also played for England A as well as turning out for OAs a few seasons ago.

There will be a ‘player’s day’ on July 1 before the hard work of pre-season starts on July 4.

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