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South Wales Scorpions – A Work In Progress

It’s been a tough couple of seasons in charge of South Wales Scorpions for former Warrington Wolves junior Mike Grady. Grady, 33,  took the South Wales reins at the start of 2014. The side from Mountain Ash finished bottom of Championship 1 last year and they sit at the foot of the ladder after eight games this season. Nothing But League caught up with coach Grady about the current situation in South Wales, and what the future holds for the club. 

NBL – Despite the losses in this current season, are the Scorpions still in a confident mood that wins are not too far around the corner?

MG – Yes we are, the results do not reflect our performances. Although ultimately it’s a results business and that’s what we will be judged on. There is no external target or expectation on the amount of wins I want from the lads, but internally we are looking at what goes wrong during games and trying to fix them up in the week, I just ask the lads for a performance each week, and try and improve little things within the game that went wrong the previous week. We get that process right with our performance then hopefully results will follow.

NBL – Will any changes be made to the squad in the next few weeks to try and change your fortunes? Has there been contact made for any players, maybe from Rugby Union which is big in Wales?  

MG – We are always looking for players, within the Welsh Conference and also Rugby Union. I’ve given over 20 players at least their debut at this level, all from either the conference, rugby union or South Wales academy. They are all Welsh, it won’t bring the instant success that people are looking for but it will bring sustainability in 4/5 years when these boys have a bit of experience under their belts. 

An example of a Rugby Union player we have training with us at the moment is Kristian Baller. He has played top level rugby union in this country but isn’t quite ready for rugby league, he is currently playing with Valley Cougars to learn the game. The sports are totally different and great sports in their own right, he admits it’s different and says it will take time to learn. I’ve had other lads training from Rugby Union saying the training is too tough, and if our training is tough at the bottom of the league they can’t imagine the other sides in the division. We also have to compete with money, playing rugby union, get paid have a few drinks after all on your doorstep or play rugby league, get played less than rugby union and take a whole day travelling the country to play a game. Also both seasons cross over, I need lads committed to us otherwise I will find myself in a situation with no players as the rugby union season has finished and they have gone back. 

The point is that we will always be looking at players and will add when and if we can. We have signed Tom Morgan from Bridgend RU, he has been a great signing and wants to stay, so it’s swings and roundabouts really but we will keep looking and see what’s available. 

NBL – How close-knit is the bond between Valley Cougars and South Wales Scorpions, and will any players be added to the Scorpions squad in the near future? 

MG – Very close knit, mainly brought about by my assistant coach Paul who was Head Coach there until this season, both clubs have helped each other out with players if needed. We’re actually looking at one player from there as we speak, the lads that have already signed from Conference clubs and playing for us will tell you the step up is massive. Players will be added from Cougars and various other clubs but we need to make sure they understand the commitment to play at this level and are willing to do that. The door is never shut and we will look at anyone playing in the conference and add them if we feel they will bring something to the squad.

NBL – Have any discussions taken place with other clubs about the option of loaning a few players?  

We currently have 2 Gloucestershire All Golds players and have had a player from North Wales Crusaders who has since gone back. Geographically we just can’t bring anyone in we like from up north or another club, if I was going to do that I may as well have a dual-registration agreement in place. I’m not a fan of that, I’m a believer the lads have to train together and not just play together on a weekend, despite results I’m convinced that’s why morale is always good. Crusaders are another Welsh club and we work together well when bringing a loan player in, the boys from All Golds are Welsh anyway and the lads knew them so that made sense. 

NBL – And finally, what is the overall direction of the club in the near future?

MG – Well, to have a fully sustainable, predominantly Welsh side competing at this level. Will that happen overnight? No. My reckoning it will take a good 4/5 years, when I say predominantly Welsh I’m talking about 80% of the squad, this helps as we are based miles away from heartland clubs and players which cost a lot of money to bring, the club doesn’t have a lot of money. This in turn will help the national side, producing semi-pro players and in some cases like we have seen, Super League players, Ben Flower, Gil Dudson, Elliot Kear, Rhodri Lloyd and Lloyd White to name a few. 

Myself, the staff and the players are not paid a lot in comparison to our nearest clubs, but we are all working hard and pushing in the same direction trying to achieve the same thing, we all love the sport and feel it has a future in Wales.

We’d like to thank Mike Grady for his time today, and we wish him and the South Wales club all the best for the future. Make sure to keep track on how the Scorpions progress in 2015 through Joshua Chapman’s previews and reports of Kingstone Press League 1 on Nothing But League.

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