- Former Lion Harry Ellis assists Leicestershire County Championship Shield
- Head Coach Paul Walsh aiming for Shield final
Photo: Getty Images
Former England, British and Irish Lions and Leicester scrum half Harry Ellis is helping Leicestershire prepare for this season’s County Championship Shield campaign.
Ellis was forced to retire from playing two years ago because of a knee injury and he is now studying at Loughborough University.
He has been recruited by Leicestershire head coach Paul Walsh, who coached Ellis at Leicestershire and Midlands Under 18 levels, to help coach first phase attacks.
Ellis has joined a coaching team that also includes former Leicester captain Ian Smith ahead of Leicestershire’s opening Pool Two match against Essex at Market Harborough on Saturday, April 28.
"I coached Harry when he was at school so I’ve known him a long time," Walsh said. "He has been a really positive influence and has been very popular with the players.
"The fact that he has played at a high level is a bonus. But he’s a very good coach and a thoroughly nice chap."
Leicestershire were beaten finalists in this competition two years ago and hope to celebrate the county’s 125th anniversary season by going one better this time.
"Last year we struggled because Hinckley were playing in National Two and their players weren’t available," Walsh said.
"But this season we can select Hinckley players and we have a highly motivated squad. I believe it’s the strongest squad we have had in the three years that I have been involved with the county. We got to Twickenham two years ago and we have high hopes of doing the same. We are not messing about, that’s for sure."
Photo: Getty Images
Leicestershire’s three National Three Midlands clubs, Syston, South Leicester and Hinckley, are all well represented in the 33-strong squad along with players from Oakham and Loughborough.
East Midlands are also in Pool Two and start with a home match against Buckinghamshire at Huntingdon. East Midlands have already decided that they will be leaving the County Championship Shield next season to play in the Second Division of the County Championship Bill Beaumont Cup.
"We have five players from this season’s East Midlands Under 20 side in the England Counties Under 20 squad and eight who played for Midlands Under 20," said chairman of playing Jeremy Tyrrell.
"The majority of them are playing at clubs at levels three or four and they would not be able to play for us at senior level if we remained in the Shield."
East Midlands beat Army A in a warm-up match at Northampton last month which included players from Stourbridge, Nuneaton, Shelford and Old Albanians who cannot play for them in this season’s Shield.
The squad to play Buckinghamshire will include players from Old Northamptonians, Luton, Kettering, Ampthill & District, Towcestrians, Bedford Athletic, Peterborough and Leighton Buzzard. Staffordshire and Notts, Lincs & Derbyshire are in Pool One of the County Championship Shield.
NLD sit out this weekend’s opening round of matches but Staffordshire face a long trip to Workington to play Cumbria.
Staffordshire, who beat Leicestershire in a warm-up match at Burton last month, have made a change to their coaching team because Alex Gray has withdrawn because of work commitments. Eric Field, the county coach co-ordinator, will now assist Craig Wilson, the Longton hooker, who was also in charge of Staffordshire’s Under 20s side this season.
Staffordshire will not be able to select players from Stoke, the Midlands Two West North champions, this weekend because of a rearranged league match. Longton, Walsall and Burton have made their players available for county duty along with Lichfield, Leek and Stafford.