A shortage in tall rugby players has prompted Preston Grasshoppers to launch a recruitment drive to attract potential team members that will be 6ft 4ins or over.
The initiative called ‘When I’m 6ft 4ins, aims to bring in potential players to compete for second row forward position with club’s first and second teams.
Gareth Dyer, director of Rugby at Preston Grasshoppers, commented on the initiative. He said: “It’s becoming clear that signing players who are over six and half foot was becoming ultra-competitive. A few years ago, there was a chronic shortage of tight head props, well now it’s the back five of the scrum players who are 6 ft 4ins and over.
“We’re looking to unearth potential taller players who are in the age range of 17-23. They could be playing other sports such as basketball, hockey or participating in field athletics. We also want to hear from guys that played at a young age and then left the game. As long as they can demonstrate some athletic prowess and are interested in a new challenge, then we want to hear from them.”
Former first team players and brothers, Craig and Wayne Steel who are both over 6ft 4ins played for the first team. Craig added: “I started playing at age 19 on the recommendation of Gareth Dyer with Wayne joining at 23 after becoming despondent with football.
“At 6′ 6″ it was felt we could be put our height to good use in the lineouts and over the course of the next 13 yrs I played senior rugby collecting 100 odd 1st XV caps which included two full seasons playing in ‘the row’ with my brother which is a stand out memory for me.
“Wayne, on the other hand, went on to be 1st XV Captain for three seasons playing in excess of 200 games for the 1st team. Even though we both came to the game late we were able to make the most of our physical attributes and go on to have some great times at Hoppers, the family ethos of the club and camaraderie shared in the changing room means we have made some wonderful friends through the game and still enjoy an active part in the Hoppers family.
“With this new initiative, I’ll be helping any new players integrate and learn the intricacies of rugby union – I’ve been there so I’ll know first-hand what players will be dealing with. Furtherrmore, there’ll be a specific programme to help them develop into outstanding players. It’s a fantastic opportunity to become an integral part of great team.”
Coaching will be undertaken by Craig Steel and Steve Tiernan, both of whom are RFU Level 2 accredited coaches.
Steel added “There is a saying at the club “once a Hopper, always a Hopper” and whether or not a player stays for a short spell or their entire career they will always be welcome at Lightfoot Green.”
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