HOW’S PRE-SEASON GOING FOR YOU?
Pre-season was tough as it always is. The horrible feeling of pushing yourself to your limit each session in the knowledge that it will make running around the field in the pressure of a game that much easier. You get used to hearing the demons in your head telling you to stop.
HOW DOES IT DIFFER TO YOUR TIME AT THE DRAGONS?
Jersey is blessed with all sorts of natural tools that the club has adapted to use for training. So although sand dunes and hill sprints up vertical paths are pretty similar, getting used to cold sea swims in the morning for ‘recovery’ was definitely a new luxury.
WHAT WAS BEHIND THE DECISION TO MOVE?
Jersey is a club with masses of drive and ambition and has the plans and resources to achieve its goals. I want to be part of a club that realises those goals. Something I can rest my hat on when I retire knowing that I was part of that. Something that I missed out on with my time at London Welsh, but was so proud of them when they did it.
WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN BEHIND JERSEY’S RAPID RISE OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS?
It’s hard for me to say not having played a part, but the Club seems to be built on good foundations and have constantly aimed to improve. That with an amazing fan base both on and off the field has helped to keep the energy and drive behind the success. The right coaches and players have also put the Club where it is today.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE MINIMUM EXPECTATION WILL BE FOR JERSEY AS A CLUB THIS SEASON?
Jersey want to continually improve year on year, but to achieve this we have to break it down and take it week by week and match by match. It’s too easy to get tripped up by your own goal setting, especially in the Championship.
DO YOU HAVE ANY AMBITIONS THIS YEAR BOTH PERSONALLY AND AS A TEAM?
Winning is a habit and one I haven’t had the luxury of tasting in the last few years so I want to get that buzz back, be part of a team that works hard together to get the results and reap the rewards.
WHO ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO PLAYING ALONGSIDE THIS YEAR?
We have lots of new signings with good reputations as well as having lots of players that made a big impression on the league last season so it would be unfair to pick out any of them in particular.
ARE THERE ANY YOUNGSTERS IN THE SQUAD YOU HAVE SEEN SO FAR WHO YOU THINK COULD MAKE A NAME FOR THEMSELVES?
Jersey has some great local talent coming through, Luke Stratford is a recent signing who is looking like a promising young hooker. As well as James Voss and Jack Burroughs, other local boys full of talent. It’s different in Jersey, we are almost a national side and feel we have a responsibility to the Island, therefore to see players coming through like Stratford, Voss and Burroughs it gives Jersey a real boost and is imperative to the Club’s success and future.
HOW ARE YOU FINDING JERSEY FROM A NON-RUGBY PERSPECTIVE SO FAR?
Jersey life is very easy to settle into! Beautiful beaches, lush countryside and extremely friendly people! I’ve been stopped several times on my dog walks, asking if I’m part of the rugby and asking how I’m settling in.
WHO DO YOU THINK WILL BE YOUR MAIN RIVALS IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP THIS SEASON?
This is a strong league and teams have made some great signings. London Welsh will be keen to bounce back up having had a taste of the Premiership, and Bristol have recruited extremely well both on the pitch and on the sidelines! But for us every match is a great challenge, but also winnable so we will respect each opposition equally.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE PLAYING LEAGUE FOR WALES?
That was a great year for me having played Wales U21 in Union and Rugby League for Wales. It was an amazing experience being around some top names in League and with a wealth of experience. Ian McGeechan even came in to do a talk on training and the games coming up. The fitness and training helped me to push myself even harder.
WOULD YOU EVER CONSIDER SWITCHING CODES IN THE FUTURE?
I loved playing League when I did and sometimes wish I took my chance when I had it. I’d seriously consider another chance at it if one did come along, but for now and the foreseeable future my job and ambitions remain with Jersey in the 15-man code.
DO YOU THINK YOUR TIME STUDYING CONDITIONING AND COACHING HAS HELPED YOU AS A PLAYER ON THE FIELD?
Definitely, I do have my guilty pleasures, but I generally know what I can get away with eating or drinking and what I can’t. My degree course has given me a greater understanding of my body and how to manage it. Definitely an essential ability for a longer career!
ANY PLANS FOR AFTER YOU HANG UP YOUR BOOTS?
I’ve met lots of great people off the field in a wide range of jobs each offering a bit of something I would like to do. My mind at the minute isn’t made up on exactly what I want to do so I’m keeping my options open for now as I have no plans to hang up my boots in the near future.
Best of luck to Tom and the rest of the Jersey Rugby team, hope