No fewer than four Jersey Reds players have earned selection in the end-of-season ‘all star’ team representing the Greene King IPA Championship.
The Championship Dream Team for 2018-19 includes half-back pairing Will Homer and Brett Herron (pictured above), wing/full-back Leroy Van Dam (pictured below) and lock Jerry Sexton (also pictured below). The selection was compiled through votes from Directors of Rugby/ Head Coaches from the 12 clubs in the league and published by national weekly title The Rugby Paper, in association with Treasury Tutor.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon said: “This is a fantastic accolade for the club and shows how impressive the team have been this season, culminating in the Reds’ highest-ever Championship finish of fourth. All four players have played a massive part in what we’ve achieved, and while we’re saying goodbye to Jerry and Brett as they head to the PRO14 and Premiership, it’s great that Will and Leroy will be back at Stade Santander International next season.”
At least one Jersey player has been part of the Dream Team every season since 2013-14, but this season the contingent has expanded to four players – the most from any one club – as well as two former Reds. The Jersey presence has previously made up exclusively of tight-five forwards, prior to the trio of backs selected this time around.
Previous Jersey Reds players in Dream XV:
* 2013-14: Jon Brennan. ‘The Bear’ was part of the Jersey journey from London Three to the Championship and hung up his boots in 2015, much to the relief of opposing front row players
* 2014-15: Sam Lockwood and Harry Williams. Tight-head prop Williams earned a move to the Premiership with Exeter Chiefs at the end of that season and was subsequently called up to the England squad for the summer 2017 tour of Argentina where he won the first of his 17 caps to date
* 2015-16: Sam Lockwood. The loose-head retained his place after a second great season with the Reds; he was another Premiership-bound player having agreed a deal to join Newcastle Falcons ahead of the 2016/17 season
* 2016-17: Simon Kerrod and Pierce Phillips. Both players moved to Worcester Warriors at the season’s end. Second row Phillips, who had spent three years on the Island, became the first non-prop from Jersey to earn Dream XV selection
* 2017-18: Jake Armstrong and Jake Woolmore. Team-mates and house-mates, the two Jakes proved inseparable throughout the season. Both props signed to join Premiership-bound Bristol Bears at the end of the season, but before leaving the Island, and making their 50th Reds appearance in the final game of the season, they were named ‘top of the props’ and selected in the Dream Team front row
The full Greene King IPA Championship Dream is as follows:
1) WILL GOODRICK-CLARKE (RICHMOND)
Always puts in a big shift with a tackle count any back-row player would be proud to call his own. Offers plenty at scrum-time and in the loose too. London Irish have snapped him up for next season. Just edged out Sean McCarthy of Bedford.
2) SAM MATAVESI (CORNISH PIRATES)
Having switched to the front row from being a flanker, Matavesi has thrived both for club and country. Endeared for his all-action style, Matavesi is often at the forefront of defence and attack and his loan move to Toulouse at the tail-end of the season was well-deserved, as was his return to the Fiji team in November after a five-year absence.
3) CRAIG TRENIER (RICHMOND)
Destructive scrummager who has caused most opposition packs all sorts of problems this season. Will remain in the Championship next season after signing for Ealing Trailfinders. Cornish Pirates powerhouse Christian Judge was a close second.
4) JERRY SEXTON (JERSEY REDS)
Keen student of the game who provided the Reds with an edge at lineout time and captained the side for the majority of the 43 league games he played. Will be playing in the Pro14 next season after signing a three-year deal with the Isuzu Southern Kings.
5) JOSH MCNALLY (LONDON IRISH)
Set to become the latest in a long line of players to make the move from London Irish to Bath after a stellar season in the Championship. At 6ft 7ins and more than 19st, McInally offers a real physical presence around the park and has played at lock and in the back row this season. Played in every game bar the final round of the season.
6) RAYN SMID (EALING TRAILFINDERS)
An ever-present for Ealing this season, scoring 11 tries and captaining the side. A fantastic ball carrier who is strong at the breakdown and hits hard in defence. Has covered all three back-row positions and is a real talisman of the team.
7) JORDY REID (EALING TRAILFINDERS)
Australian breakdown specialist in the mould of David Pocock and Michael Hooper, Reid was the pick of all but two of the opposition coaching teams for his brilliance at pilfering opposition ball. Aggressive runner who was voted Ealing Players’ Player of Year.
8) MATT ROGERSON (LONDON IRISH)
Hit the ground running after his summer move from Jersey with a man-of-the-match display against Ealing in the first game of the season and never looked back. The powerful ball-carrier warded off the threat of Janco Venter, his replacement in the Reds’ back row, and Yorkshire Carnegie’s Dan Temm, in this most competitive of positions.
9) WILL HOMER (JERSEY REDS)
Has fine-tuned his core kicking and passing skills to become a more rounded nine, not just a running threat. Cornish Pirates’ Alex Day was unlucky to just miss out and Lee Dickson got a couple of votes in his swansong season at Bedford.
10) BRETT HERRON (JERSEY REDS)
Summer move to Harlequins is recognition of a fine season in which Herron benefitted from regular rugby. Possesses good evasive skills as well as being an adept distributor and kicker. Honourable mentions go to Rory Jennings and Stephen Myler of London Scottish and London Irish respectively.
11) JAMES CORDY-REDDEN (EALING TRAILFINDERS)
Has an excellent strike record whilst at Ealing and has been no stranger to the try line again this term with 12 tries from 17 starts. Also possesses good aerial skills and carries the ball well. Championship top try scorer Dean Adamson came close to retaining his place from last season, while London Scottish’s Rob Stevenson and Cornish Pirates duo, Alex O’Meara and Robin Wedlake, came under consideration.
12) PETE LUCOCK (YORKSHIRE CARNEGIE)
Restored to his preferred position at inside centre after a spell as a makeshift fly-half, Lucock has been a rock of consistency in Yorkshire Carnegie’s rollercoaster ride of a season with his hard running lines and tough tackling. London Irish’s Terrence Hepetema impressed and might have made the team had he played more than half a season.
13) TOM STEPHENSON (LONDON IRISH)
Before his untimely injury towards the end of the season the former U20 World Cup winner had gone from strength-to-strength in the heart of the London Irish midfield. His balanced partnership with Hepetema earned rave reviews from the Exiles’ faithful and was as solid in defence as it was potent in attack.
14) LEROY VAN DAM (JERSEY REDS)
Equally comfortable on either wing or at full-back, van Dam has been a superb addition to the Reds’ squad. Works hard with and without the ball and has reaped the rewards.
15) RICH LANE (BEDFORD BLUES)
Another former Jersey player, chosen for his ability to turn defence into attack in the blink of an eye with searing pace and an eye for the gap. Has the ability to bounce back off the ground and back on to his feet in a flash, making him a hard man to stop. Pirates’ Kyle Moyle was the only other contender for the full-back slot.