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Saturday, 02 August 2014

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Will too many hookers spoil the Haven broth?

HERE we go again. Sicey’s back, though Walshie, his old mate, won’t be joining him.

After interviewing Craig this week on his life and times (page 38) I feel sure he won’t be tempted to make another comeback – even at the ripe old age of 31.

The boy probably did hang up his boots far too young, especially with Smokin’ Joe being four years older, still going strong and leading Haven for yet another term.

Craig Walsh spurned all advances (from Cresta and Ged) to give it another go but seems quite content with his lot in rugby retirement but is pleased that Leroy Joe, one of his heroes, still has the get up and go to carry on.

Walshie was Whitehaven’s modern day golden boy, his skills were on a par with Leroy’s, some would say more so but unfortunately not all turned to gold. Craig could and should have achieved more in my opinion – and I could say the same about Carl Sice.

Which may well be the reason why Carl is back on The Recre beat – unfinished business, he says.

Performance guru Gary Hewer refers to an extra throw of the dice in terms of the No.9’s Haven have on the books competing for the jersey, but I wonder if in the past it’s been more akin to Russian Roulette – Sice never knew when the bullet was coming, when he would be sent on to the pitch or taken off, depending on the strategy of the coach.

We expected big things of Sice when he came to Whitehaven – he was a star at Workington (Town had a much better team in those days)) and certainly didn’t come into the category of a Derwent Park impact player.

Trouble is that Carl came to The Recre with a reputation of being something of a maverick (a bit like Walshie maybe!), not really a team player who didn’t fit a straight-jacket game plan.

But, in a game which is maligned by some as too rigid tactically, it takes off the cuff players like Sice to offer the unexpected and make a difference.

Perhaps Ged Stokes recognises that, if not then what’s the point?

It’s not so long since Aaron Lester, Sice and Graeme Mattinson were going hell for leather for the starting hooking role.

Lester’s gone – Walshie for one thinks the skipper went too soon – and as things stand Matty is the main man with Chris Smith and hot prospect Mark Watson the challengers, with Sicey that extra throw of the dice!

With Lady Luck on his side, my money’s on Matty to make the biggest impact of his career so far in 2010 – his dynamism in attack and defence can spur the side and take a load off the shoulders of Mr Joe.

Play anywhere pivot Leroy looks tailor made for loose forward next time round leaving Carl Rudd, Dylan Skee and Mick Govin contesting the halfback spots.

You can’t really see an in-form, injury free Rudd being the odd man out. Given the rub of the green, like Mattinson, I’d expect to see the best of Carl, as I’m sure he would himself.

Govin comes with a decent reputation, even if Halifax had no further need for his services, which leaves the Aussie from Harlequins as the unknown quantity desperate to make a name for himself.

No one really expects a Sam Obst, a Joel Penny or even a Gregg McNally but you never know your luck.

Haven fans just love a scrum half with the magic touch and the club have to plan life without Huddersfield-bound McNally, regardless of whether the Giants allow the Kells lad back at some stage to further his development.

The pivotal combinations between the halfbacks, loose forward and hooker will be absolutely crucial and so will the go forward up front following Edmondson’s departure.

Andy Thornley, the young lad from Wigan, comes in, we haven’t see the best of him yet but he’s not the only one with something to prove.


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