Rayner signs for Plymouth; joins up with former OAs coach

Lawrence Rayner

Lawrence Rayner - Credit: Archant

Lawrence Rayner is leaving Old Albanian to join up with the club’s former coach James Shanahan at Plymouth after signing a one-year deal.

The fly-half, who signed for OAs in 2010, was the team’s topscorer this season, notching 248 National League One points as his side finished ninth in the table, but he admitted the move was too good to turn down.

“I’ll miss OAs massively but it’s every kid’s dream to play professional sport. I’ve been given that opportunity and it’s a dream come true,” Rayner told the Herts Ad.

“One of the biggest things is that it will be a new challenge. I don’t want to be comfortable; I like to throw myself into something new.

“I’ll be going down there and joining a group of lads that I’ve never met so it will challenge me in a new way.”

At Plymouth, Rayner will play under Shanahan, who coached OAs for two years before moving to the south coast last summer.

“Shanners is a fantastic coach,” he said.

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“He brought me on massively in the two years I was with him and I can still learn from him. He has played in the Championship and National League most of his career so you can’t turn that down.

“As a young 10, I look at the way he plays – he enjoys a running style of rugby – and you want to learn off him. OAs play with the same running style so the transition should be smooth.”

Speaking to Plymouth’s official website, ex-OA head coach Shanahan said: ““I know Lawrence very well having coached him for two years at Old Albanian.

“In my opinion he is the best fly half in National One and he is an 80 per cent-plus goal kicker. Lawrence knows me well and he knows the systems I like to play so it won’t take him long to settle in.”

Rayner is not the only player set to leave Woollams this summer; Stef Liebenburg and Matt Chambers have also called time on their spells with the club. Charlie Hughes also left earlier this season after moving to Australia for a year.

Despite losing four key players, Rayner believes head coach Andy Holloway will ensure the same standards are met next season.

“Andy is a fantastic coach, he’s been there and done it and he has the contacts to find replacements,” he explained

“The main thing is that the core of players who have been there for four or five years will still be there; they will hold the team together.”

He added: “People say losing a nine and 10 in the same summer will be difficult but I don’t think it will hold them back. I don’t think it effect them too much because it’s a great group of lads so whoever comes in will fit in well.”