James Shanahan only looking to add English players to Plymouth Albion
PLYMOUTH Albion head coach James Shanahan says there will be no more non-England qualified players arriving at the club this summer.
Albion signed Welshman Rhys Oakley on Thursday.
Oakley's arrival means Albion now have six non-England qualified players (EQP) and that figure will rise to seven if, as expected, Sam Matavesi is capped by Fiji this summer.
Next season clubs must have an average of 16 EQPs in their 22-man squad, meaning Albion will not be able to play all seven at the same time.
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"We are at the limit and that will change if Matavesi plays for Fiji," said Shanahan.
"If he gets a cap we will be one over."
Recent signings Pale Nonu and Ben Woods are EQP, despite having been brought up in New Zealand and Ireland respectively.
Nonu has lived in the UK for seven years and has not played international rugby and Woods, like fellow Irishman Ruairi Cushion, was born in England.
"I know some people are thinking we have eight or nine EQPs," said Shanahan.
"But we haven't as Nonu and Woods are both EQP.
"But there will be no more non-EQPs."
There were rumours that Albion had tried to discourage Matavesi from playing for Fiji.
However, Shanahan says he was more than happy for the player to join up with the international team.
"I am never going to stop a player from playing international rugby," said Shanahan.
"If I did that I would not be happy with myself.
"It is a great experience for him and I hope it goes really well for him.
"It does put a bit more pressure on him.
"He will have to work even harder when he gets back here because he is now not just competing for the seven shirt but also with the other non-EQP boys.
"But he knows that. We had a chat about it last week.
"I hope he does very well."
Shanahan says his back-row is complete now following the arrival of Oakley.
Eoghan Grace has also arrived to fill the void left by Aaron Carpenter, Wayne Sprangle and Sam Hocking.
Oakley, Grace, Sean-Michael Stephen, Matavesi, Herbie Stupple and Harrison Tovey will battle it out for back-row spots.
"I would not imagine we would add anyone else to the back-row or back five," said Shanahan. "That is a really strong area.
"But that is good as we need competition. It keeps players hungry."
Shanahan is now turning his attentions to trying to add to his front-row options.
"There will definitely be another hooker, maybe two, and a tight-head (prop)," said Shanahan.
"There should be another five or six players coming on board.
"Front-row will be an area and there will be few other backs to come in as well.
"Ten, wing and full-back are the back areas at the moment.
"I am confident that will all be sorted in the next 10 days."
Gareth Evans has held talks with Albion about re-joining the club after a spell at London Welsh.
He was at Brickfields with his wife and child on Thursday, although Shanahan would not be drawn on whether a deal had been completed with the Royal Navy player.
Albion will start pre-season training on June 10.
"I can't wait," said Shanahan. "I am really looking forward to it.
"And I know the players are and the other coaching staff are."
Shanahan has confirmed that Simon Hicklin will remain as team manager, James Creek as rugby analyst and James Owen as strength and conditioning coach. He also said John Roberts will be 'a kind of rugby manager'.
Shanahan said the missing key had been a forwards player-coach, which is why he was delighted to land Oakley.
But Shanahan has not ruled out getting extra coaching support from Premiership neighbours Exeter.
"We will use the resources of Exeter," said Shanahan. "We would be stupid not to.
"They are a Premiership club who have done very well and they have some very good coaches there."
Albion should have Lloyd Fairbrother, Luke and Tom Cowan-Dickie and Will Carrick-Smith dual-registered again next season from Exeter.
"That's what's hoped," said Shanahan. "Rob (Baxter) is away with England, which is great, but hopefully we should have five boys from Exeter which we had last year.
"They are key to us and it helps Exeter as well."
FORMER Albion captain Kevin Norris has accepted an invitation to join the club's board.