- Leicestershire coach Gareth Collins ready for Gloucestershire trip
- Young coaches make their mark in National U20 Championship
Photo: RFU Archive
Leicestershire coach Gareth Collins is undaunted by the challenge that National Under 20 Championship holders Gloucestershire are likely to pose in the national semi final at Lydney on Sunday April 15 (2.30pm).
Collins, an England Counties international who plays at full back for National Two North club Leicester Lions, and Nottingham prop Mike Holford have formed a new and inexperienced coaching team this season.
But their experience of playing in pressure situations has helped Leicestershire through some tight games this season, including victory over Notts, Lincs & Derbyshire in the Midlands final.
"Gloucestershire is a huge challenge for a number of reasons," Collins said. "I have played at Lydney before so I know how tough it is to go there and get a win.
"Gloucestershire are strong at all levels. We have not seen them play and we don’t know much about them, but they are the defending champions so we are no under no illusions about what we are up against.
"It will be tough but we will approach this game in the same that we have our other matches. We will go there with confidence and hope that we can keep this run going.
"We have been outplayed on a couple of occasions this season but we have come through and won which shows that we can win games under pressure and also the character of the side. That’s not necessarily down to the coaching, it’s credit to the players that we have."
Leicestershire, who were beaten by Hampshire in last season’s National Under 20 Championship semi final, will welcome back seven players from representative duty with Midlands Under 20 who won the inaugural Under 20 Divisional Festival at Welbeck College last weekend with wins over London & SE and the North.
Collins expects all those players to be fit to face Gloucestershire, including Aylestone St James wing Devon Constant who missed the Divisional final against the North because of illness.
Collins, whose previous experience of coaching was as a teacher, has enjoyed his first excursion into representative coaching alongside former England Under 21 prop Holford.
"I’ve loved it," he added. "I’ve coached school sides before but coaching a representative team is a different level.
"Mark Badham, the team manager, decided he wanted to do things a bit differently this season and to bring in a couple of player/coaches.
"I thought that I would give it a go to see how it went. But I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. The players have responded well to us and, based on this experience, coaching is something that I will look to go into, but at what level I don’t know yet."