By Frank Smith, Sportsbeat
CORNISH Pirates skipper Chris Morgan admits he was worried man this summer that Premiership vulture would come circling and pluck up the club’s premier talent ahead of a gruelling season in the Greene King IPA Championship.
The Pirates might not have the financial resources that the likes of Bristol and London Welsh enjoy but as they bid for a top-four finish this season; the key to the club’s success is all about stability and maintaining their star names.
Being located at the foot of the United Kingdom makes it difficult to retain players when the big clubs come calling; particularly with huge travelling demands for games and training.
Scotland’s Blair Cowan, Harlequins hooker Dave Ward and Gloucester full-back Rob Cook are just a few of the players who built a reputation with the Pirates before joining Premiership sides in recent season .
Director of rugby Ian Davies has stated that he accepts Pirates are a breeding ground for top-flight clubs but this summer he has only lost scrum-half Tom Kessell and lock Darren Barry to Premiership sides Northampton Saints and Worcester Warriors respectively.
Captain Morgan said: “We are a bit more of a settled team this year. It is our second season with this coaching staff and group of players.
“We have had a small turnover of players this summer so we are looking to continue where we left off and we are looking to improve on our league position and continue to play some exciting rugby.
“Historically as a club we have had a lot of players leave us for Premiership clubs and while that has been the same again this year, there has only been a small number and we have brought in some quality guys to fill those places.
“I think they will be really good and it will freshen us up and gives us a different aspect to our play.”
Morgan picked out Kessell’s replacement Alex Day, who came in the opposite direction from Saints, as someone to keep an eye on and also welcomed the return to fitness of young back Kyle Moyle.
Pirates’ location means they need to stay overnight when travelling to away games but it does help bring the squad closer together, according to the 33-year-old.
He said: “Travelling is just part and parcel of being where we are in the bottom end of the country and every game is an overnight stay for us.
But it gives us bonding time away from home and hopefully it carries us through these games.”
Cornish Pirates won’t have to travel on the opening weekend though as they begin their Greene King IPA Championship campaign on Sunday, September 6 against Nottingham.
Davies’ men finished eighth last season and Morgan is confident they can challenge the top four this time around.
Morgan said: “I think the best thing about the Greene King IPA Championship is the structure of the league. There are a lot of tough games home and away and when you get to the play-offs teams are peaking for those games. There is always a bit of excitement and surprise at who wins it.
“The Bristol and Worcester final was fantastic and we wanted to emulate that by getting into the higher echelons of the league and be where we were a few season ago.”
The 2015/16 Greene King IPA Championship kicks-off on September 5th. To stay up-to-date with all the latest action from across the league, follow @Champrugby on Twitter