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Fylde RFC v Esher preview: Tough task to keep hold of in-demand players

Dave Fairbrother is one of seven players Fylde have confirmed re-signing for next season
Dave Fairbrother is one of seven players Fylde have confirmed re-signing for next season
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Head coach Warren Spragg says supporters should not underestimate how difficult it is for Fylde RFC to retain its players in a week the club has announced that seven have signed up for next season.

READ MORE: Spragg calls for 'respect' from players leaving
The re-signing of captain Adam Lewis, Tom Burtonwood, Tom Carleton, Dave Fairbrother, Ben Gregory, Greg Smith and Connor Wilkinson has been confirmed this week, and Spragg revealed that the retention of other senior squad members will be announced at regular intervals over the coming weeks.

Spragg told The Gazette: “There’s no hiding from the fact this is a competitive market. Preston are trying to recruit, so are Sedgley Park and Sale have taken players from Fylde. There’s a lot of competition for a small pool of players, so it can be difficult to keep hold of them.

“Dave, Greg, Connor, Tom and Adam are probably the guys you’d expect to be most in demand, so people don’t need to be nervous now.

“We will continue with these announcements for a few weeks and will have some new signings to announce further down the track.”

Spragg admits deals are yet to be concluded with certain players Fylde wish to keep. He added: “If I had a squad of around 26 who I was promising first-team rugby to, then 10 would be disappointed every week. The right way is to be honest so they understand the challenge.”

Spragg his a fully fit squad for tomorrow’s home clash with Esher but his selection decisions will be influenced by discussions with the Lancashire RFU concerning Sunday’s games.

Fylde again have a large number of players on Red Rose duty this weekend, including the rearranged Under-20 clash with Northumberland at Wigan.

It is an ongoing source of frustration for Spragg, who believes representative games should be left until the end of the league season.

He added: “We have spoken to the Lancashire coaches about game-time, considering that we provide them with a large number of players who have games on Saturday and Sunday.

“We have a good relationship with the Lancashire management but it’s a ridiculous conversation to be having.”

On the field, challenged his Fylde RFC players to “attack” their final five games of the season and prove to him they have bought into the club’s rugby philosophy.

After 12 straight defeats, Fylde’s relegation from National One was confirmed a fortnight ago, and Spragg wants his players to prove their commitment by refusing to go down with a whimper, starting in tomorrow’s penultimate home game against Esher.

Spragg told The Gazette: “Progress is what I’m looking for in a number of areas. I want the players to challenge themselves to play our style of rugby, with lots of movement and with high energy when we don’t have the ball.

“It’s what we work on in training and it’s clear to the players that it’s the game we want to play, so we want to see evidence on a Saturday that they believe in that.

“We have the mindset but must show the skillset to match.

“Having relegation confirmed has given us a bit of closure. We had a team meeting when we talked about refocusing, attacking these final five games and picking up some wins.”

Apart from a visit to second-placed Darlington Mowden Park, Fylde’s remaining matches are all against clubs currently in the lower half of the table.