Warren Spragg on form, selection dilemmas, consistency and the prospect of Hinckley at the Woodlands on Saturday. He talks to the Gazette’s Andy Moore. Reproduced courtesy of the Blackpool Gazette
Head coach Warren Spragg says consistency has been key to Fylde RFC’s success this season and that’s why a massive selection decision for tomorrow’s home clash with in-form Hinckley certainly won’t be taken lightly.
Olli Parkinson is available to return at lock after injury but Nick Ashcroft and Matt Garrod have formed an outstanding second-row partnership as Fylde piled up 114 points in their last two National Two North matches.
Those wins have helped second-placed Fylde to pull nine points clear of Sedgley Park in third and Spragg admits he faces a selection dilemma tomorrow.
He told The Gazette: “Olli has been our best second row for two or three years, but we have a very difficult decision whether to bring him back because Nick and Matt have been very good.
“We did make a lot of mistakes in the first half at Stourbridge last weekend (despite leading 45-0 at half-time and going on to win 64-12) but some of our attacking play was outstanding.
“We have changed a few things and narrowed the focus in terms of our preparation, which seems to have had a positive effect, but it isn’t only in the last two games that we have played well. We’ve had two really high-scoring games but we have been consistently good this season.”
And the Fylde boss says that consistency of performance has been helped by consistency of selection.
“We haven’t had a massive variety in terms of team selection compared to previous seasons,” he added. “Sometimes you get runs of good luck like that but then you can lose three or four players in one match.
“We have bumps and bruises, but what you find in a season like this is that lads don’t want to miss out. They are enjoying it, so they are declaring themselves fit when in another season they may fancy a week off.”
The rewards of consistent selection have certainly been reaped this season at half-back, where youthful scrum-half Adam Lanigan has partnered the more experienced Greg Smith in every game. Spragg said: “Adam is getting better. He has a lot to learn and to work on but we are pushing him hard to keep on developing and it’s good for the club to see a local lad doing well.”
Runaway league leaders Caldy have similarly been forced into few changes this season and have retained their 100 per cent record. And it would take more than Fylde ruining that record at the Woodlands in a fortnight to change the look of a table which currently shows the Wirral club 12 points clear.
Spragg added: “Caldy have been very consistent and their squad is very similar to last year’s in National One. For now they aren’t looking like slipping up but anyone can have their off-days and someone might turn them over, but our focus is on ourselves.”
The immediate focus is on Hinckley, whose shock 50-15 drubbing of Sedgley Park last weekend lifted them to fourth.
Spragg said: “Sedgley have been really strong all year but they fell apart after being 15-0 up last Saturday. But Hinckley are certainly a form team. They have won seven out of eight and it will be difficult.”
But Fylde’s form is impeccable after eight players shared their 10 tries in the West Midlands last weekend.
“We don’t mind who gets the tries as long as we get the bonus points and finish as high as we can in the table,” says Spragg. “But we do have skilful players across the team and it is pleasing when they show their skills.”