Alex Brooks named Honiton player-coach
PUBLISHED: 08:14 10 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:13 11 July 2019
New Honiton player-coach Alex Brooks has no plans to make wholesale changes to the set-up at Allhallows now he is in overall control, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.
Brooks was an assistant to player-coach Nathan Hannay last season, which was easily the best in Honiton's 126-year history.
The Laceman won promotion from the Cornwall & Devon Division to Western Counties West, were Devon Intermediate Shield winners and topped the lot by beating Northallerton at Twickenham in the final of the RFU Senior Vase.
Brooks knows Hannay will be a hard act to follow, but also knows if it is not broken is does not need fixing.
"A new season brings new challenges and we need to build on what we have achieved to meet them," said Brooks.
"Although Nathan won't be coaching this year he will still be playing and brining his expertise into play in areas like the line-out.
"I am heading up the coaching team but have all the same people who did such a good job delivering a great season.
"Charlie Wright from Exeter Chiefs will be assisting on training nights with the forwards, I have my role with the backs and we have retained Brendon Finlay in the crucial role of 1st XV team manager."
Brooks was new to Honiton last season - he switched from Cullompton to start his coaching career proper - but has been doing his homework on the club's previous campaign in Western Counties West.
Honiton, like numerous clubs who have passed the same way before, have found out in the past it can be easier to get up than stay up.
"The last time Honiton were in Western Counties West in 2012-13 they came down after one season," said Brooks.
"We know it will be tough up there as playing sides like Wellington, St Austell and Falmouth will be a step-up - and we know from last season how strong Penryn are.
"The travelling is no worse than we had in Cornwall & Devon last season, so that should not be an issue. We have derby games against Tiverton, Cullompton and Wellington to look forward to.
"And there won't be too many teams who will look forward to playing us at home on our own pitch. We have to use that in our favour.
"Our intention is to become established in Western Counties West and give a good account of ourselves."
Brooks said he had hoped Honiton's success last season would lead to players showing an interest in joining the club, which has not happened in any appreciable way.
"There have been a few enquires, but inevitably the question of money is brought up and we are a club that does not pay," said Brooks.
"Our squad won't be that much different to last season, although we have a players like Ben Logan coming back after long-term injury and Johnny House and Angus Meadows back from their studies.
"And we want to get the 2nd XV more involved in the club, rather than being somewhere players can just pitch up on a Saturday afternoon for a game.
"We are looking to appoint second team managers and build competition for places within the club."
Honiton's pre-season programme starts on Friday, August 16 when they face North Petherton. A second warm-up game against North Tawton has been booked for Saturday, August 31.