Popular, long-serving Birmingham Moseley club captain Adam Caves is better placed than most to evaluate his club’s progress.
With the exception of an interlude at Gloucester, the 34-year-old hooker has worn the red and black since his days in the club’s mini-rugby section, and under a variety of coaching regimes.
So when he states this season’s squad is ahead of its predecessor in a number of ways, it is an opinion that carries plenty of weight.
“Although we had a larger squad last year, I wouldn’t say we had a better squad than we have now, and, in truth, we didn’t click,” he said.
“We now have a bit more honesty among the players and the lads we have want to prove a point.
“At times last year it felt as if some of the lads were just going through the motions while they found the next step or the next deal.
“Some of them were always looking over their shoulder for an out or an excuse, whereas there’s no hiding place at the moment.”
Getting any sportsperson to look back on defeat, or worse, relegation is never easy. Their preferred method of dealing with setbacks is to quickly assimilate lessons learned and move on, and Caves is no exception, but nonetheless he paints a picture of a vastly changed environment.
“We’ve peaked and troughed during my time at the club and last year was a difficult one for all of us,” he said.
“This season it feels like we’ve gone from one extreme to the other, from losing every week to winning plenty of games.
“We got in early and set ourselves some quite stretching targets we want to attain. At the moment we haven’t reached any of them but we’re building week in, week out.
“Although we’ve got a smaller squad, we’ve used it quite well, which with injuries to the likes of Greg King, means we probably haven’t put out our strongest combination yet.
“Hopefully that means we can get it to the right level so we are firing at the right time against the right teams and, of course, we still have to play Hartpury twice.”
Caves’ arrival from the bench was enough to see off the young saplings in Loughborough Students’ front row in about 15 second-half minutes during Moseley’s last home game, and despite the arrival at Billesley Common of former Leicester Tigers’ academy No.2 Jake Farnworth, there is no doubt the old dog retains plenty of life.
“Everyone keeps asking when I’m going to retire,’’ Moseley’s record appearance holder added.
“I would like another year or two and to get to 400 games. I’m at 329, which is about 50 or 60 past Richard Stott, who holds the professional-era record, but Gary Cox from the amateur days is still well ahead of me.
“As long as I’m still able to do a job and help out, I hope there’s a few more years in me.”
Source : BirminghamMail