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New acting director of rugby Neil Bayliss ready for crucial first game in charge

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 06, 2014

Cornish All Blacks acting director of rugby Neil Bayliss

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Neil Bayliss admits his initiation as acting director of rugby at Cornish All Blacks could hardly be more testing.

Prop Bayliss has taken over first-team affairs from sacked head coach Spike Rainford with a critical match at Chinnor up next this weekend.

The All Blacks are level on points with third-from-bottom Chinnor, with three teams due to be relegated from National League Two South at the end of the season.

However, Bayliss says the squad have already worked to put the shock of Rainford’s departure behind them.

“The board made it clear they wanted him gone and who was to replace him became the burning question,” he said.

“Rightly or wrongly, I stuck my head above the parapet and said I would take it on. I’m happy to lead the boys through the eight games to the end of the season.

“I want to do the best I can for Launceston rugby club and I hope I have got the respect from the boys.

“We had a meeting on Tuesday night where the news about Spike was announced to the squad. We had a session then where we wiped the slate clean and talked out any problems within the squad.

“The boys have trained really well this week and cleared the air after getting over the disappointment of losing Spike.

“We wish him well for the future. He is a great coach and he will do well for another club. If he ever wanted to come back and do something for Launceston, we would welcome him back with open arms.

“But now we have eight games and we want to get maximum points out of all of them – starting with Chinnor on Saturday.”

The All Blacks won the reverse fixture narrowly, 22-20, earlier in the season at Polson Bridge.

Bayliss said: “Chinnor are in a similar position to ourselves and then we have got Cambridge away the week after – those are two massive away games for us.

“Our form on the road has not been great so it is not the easiest of starts for me, to be honest.

“[Player-coach] Tom Rawlings is the one on analysis and we will continue to talk about that. Obviously we played them once at home and we know their strengths and weaknesses.

“The main thing for us will be to go out there and play our game. We are a good side on our day despite the last few weeks.”

Fit-again Bayliss hopes to combine the roles of playing and coaching but admits he may have to sacrifice his own position within the team to serve the club.

He said: “As far as playing is concerned, my head is telling me to keep playing and my body is telling me no.

“I’ve had a serious Achilles injury all season but I’m on 96 games for Launceston and I would love to get to 100 – I did say that to the board as well.

“I’ll probably have enough to deal with over the next few weeks but , after that, we’ll have to see. I will put the future of the club before my own career, that is what it means to me to keep Launceston in this league.”

Ahead of his first squad selection, due to be confirmed today, he added: “A few boys picked up knocks last weekend but apart from that, we are expecting to be much unchanged.”

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