Returning Cinderford scrum-half Sam Arnott says getting to know his new team-mates will not be a problem. The Gloucester-born nine is back for his second spell at the Foresters having spent the last two years at Southend in National Two South. Having grown up in the county playing with the majority of the Dockham Road men at various age levels, the 21-year-old is looking forward to linking up with some old faces.
“I pretty much know everyone there already. There are only three or four lads that I don’t know,” said Arnott. “I was playing for the County at the end of last season anyway so I got to know a few more of them a bit better. Mike Wilcox and I played for Gloucestershire Seniors last year and for St Peter’s and Gloucestershire Under-20s a few years ago as well so there is a good understanding between us. I know most of the boys having played across all of the age groups with them at St Peters. It is like starting with a new team but it’s not because you already know three quarters of the boys. It is not just Mikey (Wilcox) either, I know Mark Davies as well who is another St Peter’s boy and of course Dave Pointon is coaching there too. So it is like slipping straight in, you have not got to worry about getting to know everyone’s faces.”
Arnott was in the Gloucester Academy as a teenager before joining Lydney briefly prior to his season at Cinderford. Last season’s scrum-half Danny Pointon is still recovering form his shoulder injury and is not expected to be back until at least October. While fellow halfback Luke Carter has injured the same bone in his foot that kept him out all of last season. Arnott will therefore compete with new Matson nine Joe Hoyle who also joined the club this summer after doing well in the North Gloucester Combination Cup last season. Promising youngster Jack O’Connell also impressed in his handful of first team appearances at the end of last term in the County Cup and off the bench.
Despite being aged just 21, Arnott has a wealth of experience to call upon especially when it comes to leadership capabilities. The former St Peter’s pupil has played in four National Championship finals for the Gloucestershire Under-20s at Twickenham, winning three of them and leading them to glory once. He also represented England at Under-16 level and was called up to the England Counties Under-20 side last year after scoring five tries and helping Southend finish fifth. He also wore the armband at the Essex side last year and says he has the skills to make Cinderford a force in the third tier of English rugby.
“I was captain at Southend last season so I like to think I have a fair bit of experience on my shoulders although I am only 21 so I hope that will help me,” he added. “I like to control the game and I feel I am quite experienced for my age. The teams that have come up from National Two South in the last couple of years have really put their foot print on this league. The ex-Premiership boys are starting to come into this league now so it shows how much quality is around in this division.
“It is nice to be back in Gloucestershire having grown up there. The way Deacs (director of rugby Andy Deacon) sold the club to me when he told me how much ambition there is here, it is clear that they are really going places. It is exciting times for everyone involved at Cinderford. There is a lot of hunger here and they have put together a very strong squad; it is exciting and I am looking forward to seeing what happens.”
copyright Will Wood, The Citizen www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk