Above: A last-minute score against Worthing Raiders in February was Freddie Strange's first for the Club - and one which he most certainly enjoyed. (Image: Andy Nunn)
After a number of forwards recently put pen-to-paper for next season, the Club is today delighted to announce that Andy Garner, Mickey Wilson and Freddie Strange will be turning out in the Esher back division in 2014-15.
With pre-season training due to commence in a couple of weeks, the senior management are continuing to assemble the squad that will compete for a third straight season in National One, with scrum-half Garner, fly-half Wilson and utility man Strange the first backs to commit, after Tom Cheeseman.
Despite still only being 23, Garner is one of the most experienced men currently at Molesey Road, having joined straight from Sedbergh School in 2008. With extensive experience in the Championship, Garner has been a mainstay in the side over the past two years, despite suffering serious knee injuries last term.
Wilson (pictured, left) joined last summer from Italian outfit Rovigo, having started his senior career at Saracens. At home in a number of positions in the midfield, Wilson has international experience, having turned out for the Italy ‘A’ side and has been a key man this summer in the Esher sevens group, the Golden Lions.
Strange was one of the finds of last season, and another product of the hugely successful sevens programme run by assistant first team coach Chris Kibble. Having graduated from Bath University last summer, where he played for the 1st XV in the BUCS Premier South league, Strange excelled in the shortened version of the game, earning himself a spot on the senior roster.
Initially showing up well for the Cardinals, he was handed a debut in early 2014 and never looked back, scoring his maiden try in the 36-19 win over Worthing Raiders in early February.
Coach Ricky Nebbett believes all three men will be key in determining Esher’s fortunes in the forthcoming campaign, both on and off the pitch.
“We’re very pleased to have got Andy, Mickey and Freddie on board for another year, as they all offer something unique,” he said.
“Andy has been really unfortunate with injuries, but he’s been very consistent when he has played and he’s added another dimension to his game by scoring tries. He’s a student of the game and is hungry to do well.
“Mickey took a little time to bed in when he first arrived, but he’s flourished since then. He’s got a great rugby brain and has the ability to play a number of different ways, which is so important when things aren’t going your way. There are a number of styles we will come up against next season, and Mickey has the temperament and experience to make sure we execute our game plan for any given game.
“We always knew Freddie had the talent, but it wasn’t until we threw him in at the deep end that we were going to find out if he had it to compete at National One level.
“He got his chance at the turn of the year, and has not looked back. Offensively he is excellent, but he’s come on in leaps and bounds in other areas. With a strong pre-season under his belt, he’ll be fitter and stronger and will be a key man in our attacking plans.
“All three guys bring a lot to the group off the field, and that’s what we are looking for when it comes to recruitment. We have a nice balance in the group right now and everyone within it adds something positive.”