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RUGBY PREVIEW: Fishermen cast their net for new scrum half

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 21, 2012

Rugby

Rugby

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Brixham are close to signing another scrum half to strengthen their squad for the second half of the season in National Three South West.

The Fishermen brought over Matt Clarke from New Zealand early in their season as their first-choice number nine, but he has been on the sidelines for six weeks with a knee injury.

Utility player Sean Onslow has been filling in during Clarke's absence – and Brixham coach Dan Parkes would be the first to admit how lucky they are to have someone like Onslow in the wings.

However, the chance to add a bit of extra quality to the squad is too good to miss, which is why Brixham are talking to Johnny Stephens.

"Johnny is the Royal Navy scrum-half and has just been posted to BRNC Dartmouth to work," said Parkes' assistant Ian Morgan. "If he does sign on, then we add some depth to our entire back line. Matt Clarke will be back in the New Year, but he is good enough to play anywhere in the backs."

Brixham have also sounded out Plymouth Albion prop Ryan Hopkins about a possible move to Astley Park, although talks are at a very early stage.

Hopkins has eight years of Championship experience with Albion and until this season was one of the first names on the team sheet.

However, the pressure of combining rugby with studying for a teaching degree have proved too much for the former Tiverton youngster.

Albion have released Hopkins from his contract but retained his registration, in case of emergencies.

Barnstaple go into the festive break reasonably happy with their season to date. They are eighth out of 14 in National Three South West with seven wins and seven loses.

"I am never normally one to settle for mediocrity, but if we are seventh or eighth at the end of the season that won't have been a bad season," Barnstaple director of rugby Kevin Squire said. "At the start of the season I was keen to keep aspirations in check as I knew this would be a transitional season for the club.

"Some of our senior players had either retired or moved away, and this was always going to be a season for the youngsters to establish themselves. You can't expect to bring the kids in and challenge for the top straight away.

"With half a season under their belts the youngsters are now getting established and in the New Year I expect to see them make an impact."

There are no re-arranged National Three South West games tomorrow, but Paignton have a South West One match at home to Chard to replay.

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