Cornish Pirates prop Alan Paver has admitted he was disappointed by the outcome of his comeback match in the Championship against Ealing Trailfinders last Sunday.
Paver returned to the starting line-up for Pirates’ 18-18 draw against the Championship’s bottom club. Although he was pleased to play his first match since injuring his arm in early November, Paver said the players can expect some harsh words from the club’s coaches.
The result leaves the Pirates ten points adrift of fourth-placed Bristol, who also have a game in hand over their great rivals, in the race for a top-four play-off spot.
Paver said: “We’re going to have to take a bit of a rocket. We could have gone out there with any tactics and we should have won – that isn’t meant to sound arrogant – we were at home against a side that are bottom of the table.
“We are challenging for a spot in the top four and through the season we have proved that we could be contenders for the play-offs.
“For them to come here and all but beat us is very disappointing. It harms our campaign, we are trying to build momentum and we want to keep everything buoyant.
“There’s a lot of things happening within the squad and we’re trying to move forward for next year. It was a little bit of a backwards step today but we have to dust ourselves down and move on.
“We really needed to win and to get those five points. This was an opportunity and finishing in the top four is not going to be in our hands now,” he added.
Paver managed close to an hour against the London side before being replaced and he believes he has made a full recovery from his injury.
“I only came back into full training this week,” he said. “Like with any major injury, I was a little bit hesitant early on but it was good to get that first contact and game out of the way.
“One of the good things about being older and more experienced is that, if I have a lay-off, when I come back it doesn’t take long to get back into games.
“It was easy enough to get back into it but it was just my lungs and legs a little bit.
“I was able to get 60 minutes done and, at a push, I probably could have done the rest of the game.”
Pirates director of rugby Ian Davies recognises the value of Paver’s experience and is set to welcome other key players back from injury over the coming weeks, such as Gavin Cattle and Laurie McGlone.
However, he hopes his younger players can continue to develop so their absence is less keenly felt in future. The sixth-placed Pirates have yet to win a Championship game in 2014.
Davies said: “Paves is getting on now and he admits that himself. Getting him back in heavy conditions after a long lay-off, we did mark him down for 60 minutes.
“He started to look tired at the 50-minute mark, as you would expect. But he is a war horse and it is good to have him back on the field. We’ve also got Gavin Cattle coming back in the next couple of weeks.
“I just don’t want that to paper over the cracks. Those guys are really important for their experience, they have been around a long time but they are not going to be around forever.
“We have to make sure the people on the park currently are learning and moving forward. There were some nice touches from people like Kyle Moyle, when he got the ball he looked dangerous.”
However, 36-year-old Paver still hopes to play a big part in Pirates’ future and hopes to extend his stay with the club. He said: “We’ve talked about my future and me being here long-term. I’m hoping to sign again if the Pirates want me back.
“I feel I offer enough playing-wise and within the environment to warrant them keeping me. Fingers crossed, you’ll still see me for a few years yet.”