Former London Welsh and Bedford Blues player Ben Cooper among four players to sign 2020/21 contracts with Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club
Ben Cooper is part of a quartet that has already committed themselves to build towards a promotion push with Bury St Edmunds next season.
The 30-year-old prop, who has tasted the Premiership with London Welsh, signed for his boyhood club from Bedford Blues in a part-time coaching capacity a year ago before picking up playing duties this season.
The signings of wing Ciaran Leeson and back row or second row Alex Leo will also be part of Nick Wakley’s 2020/21 squad, along with Toby Hill, after all agreed new deals.
It is a boost to the club to go public on the news ahead of tomorrow’s home game with Leicester Lions (3pm), as they look to bounce back from an unjust-looking scoreline of 33-17 to Redruth at the GK IPA Haberden on Saturday.
“It was always an easy decision,” said Cooper, who played for Bury from under-13s through to colts.
“I came back last year, it’s my home club, I have no intentions of doing a sideways movement, there is no point. I love this club, it gave me a lot in my career to push on and it is all about repaying that now.
“The stepping into coaching this year has been great. It has allowed me to step back at times and it is a credit to Terry (Sands, performance director) and Wakers (Nick Wakley, head coach) for letting that happen and it is about pushing on next year now and building this club to where it should be.”
The Wolfpack have dropped to eighth, two places below tomorrow’s opponents Leicester, who are eight points ahead of them.
Finishing sixth would equal their best ever finish in the country’s fourth tier, National League 2 South. But like Wakley, Cooper is not focusing on that.
“We aren’t worried about positions now, we are just taking each game as it comes,” he said.
“Today (Redruth) was a bit of a down on that but we will head straight into Leicester next week to get back on track at home and we will see where it takes us.
“We are not happy with where we are in the league but the boys have put in 100 per cent all season and it is all about learning for making history next year now for us.”
Against Redruth, Patrick Robinson’s reply to two opening tries, one highly controversial, on the stroke of half-time sparked the comeback with The Wolfpack turning things round with good pressure leading to a 17-12 advantage.
But they lost their way as the referee’s decisions continued to baffle and frustrate the home crowd, though taking nothing away from Redruth who showed just why they are pushing at the top end of the table.
“Some questionable decisions really took the competiveness away from the game in the last 15 to 20 minutes,” said head coach Wakley.
“It did deserve a very tight contest and in the end it was an unjust scoreline.”
He is expecting another ‘big physical game’ tomorrow similar to Redruth when Leicester visit.
“Hopefully we can get our show back on the road at home,” he said.
More by this authorRussell Claydon