Eton Manor make changes to ensure National League Three South is better ‘next time’ admits head coach Jamie Connors

PUBLISHED: 18:00 02 September 2016

Eton Manor coach Jamie Connors (left) looks on during pre-season training (pic: Martin Pearl)

Eton Manor coach Jamie Connors (left) looks on during pre-season training (pic: Martin Pearl)


New Wilderness club have had numerous improvements made to ground this summer and have more people working on issues on and off the pitch now

Eton Manor may have suffered relegation from National League Three South last season, but head coach Jamie Connors is pleased to see the club make various changes over the summer to improve the club.

After achieving promotion from London One North for the first time in their history in 2014/15, via a play-off, they struggled at the elite level and lost all 26 matches in the National League, although they went close to victory at times.

It was a harsh lesson as Manor realised they weren’t ready to compete on or off the pitch in the higher echelons and the club has, therefore, tried to develop their home this summer.

“The club realised probably off the pitch we weren’t ready for that level and so they’ve taken that away and put things in place,” said Connors.

“There is lots of stuff happening off the pitch, which is quite exciting and the club is trying to be fully sustainable from an environmental point of view.

“We have got a new water pump going in, all new solar panels on the roof, there is a ground source heat pump so essentially the club won’t have an energy bill or close to not having one which is pretty cool so lots of things are going on.

“The club’s trying really hard to attract people throughout from the youth right up to the top and if there was another opportunity to go back up, we’re probably better prepared to do that.”

What also made it hard for Manor last season was the absence of key players for their first campaign in the National League.

Captain Tryson Goodchild suffered with a string of back problems and couldn’t lead the team, while they were also without Mike Eghan.

Manor’s talismanic winger had been in stunning form when they earned promotion, but broke his leg in March 2015 – just before they won their play-off against Cobham.

But Eghan is fully over the problem now and has already got his confidence back, with Connors adding: “Mike has played this summer and scored a few tries already. He’s looking pretty fit, which is good.

“Mike is over the injury and he’s sort of got his confidence back as well, which is nice, so that’s a big boost for us.

“The idea will be to get him as much ball as possible and see how he goes, but across the board we’ve stepped up.

“Our pre-season this time around has been a lot better than it was last year and we highlighted in the off-season that our fitness generally wasn’t up to scratch.”

Strength and conditioning coach Simon Nainby has been working hard with the Manor squad to ensure they are fitter this time around.

And ex-player Ian Edwards has also been appointed Director of Rugby to oversee everything taking place at the club.

Joe Mbu, experienced in rugby union and league, has joined Manor to help Connors with coaching, while Richard Stock and Jeff Bradley are in charge of the second string.

The New Zealander is happy with the extra help received, having debated whether to stay at the club at the end of last season.

He said: “We’ve got a wide range of coaches now. It’s not just myself and Joe, but also Richard and Jeff. They are coaching the second team and how we’re trying to do it, is have four coaches for two sides.

“So every Tuesday and Thursday we try to do it all together and it takes the load off everyone because if I’m not there or somebody else can’t make it, there is always two or three others around who are good at coaching to just pick up the group.

“That has certainly helped things and then we’ve got Ian helping oversee it and run the club. We’ve also got a couple of physios at training on Tuesday and Thursday nights so the more people helping on that side of things the better.”

Manor have recruited well in the summer as well in both the forwards and backs and although Connors doesn’t like to set targets, he said: “It would be quite nice if we could go up again to actually win the league. That is something we’ve not achieved so it would be nice, but there is a long way to go.”

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