LEE DOUGLAS: Rising young stars deserve their chance

Lee Douglas' weekly column

Lee Douglas' weekly column

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We return to action at York this weekend after a week off due to the Rugby World Cup final last Saturday.

None of the players in the first team can rest on their laurels at the moment as there is always someone ready to take their place, as we have plenty of strong players in the Vikings.

The younger players are getting plenty of plaudits in recent games, winning a lot of man of the match awards.

I try not to make a big issue of their age. If they play well enough and train hard enough and listen to what I tell them to do, then they get in the team and if they play well they keep their place.

Numbers at training have been poor over the past week or so but we will need to be at the top of our game on Saturday as York have always proved to be a difficult opponent for us in recent years.

Signing a couple of new players, Kiwis Isaac Faamu and John Worgan, will help add more competition for places at the club.

Isaac has impressed in training and should make it on to the bench at Clifton Park, while John, who has been in this country watching the World Cup, is set to play for the Vikings so we can have a look at him.

While the World Cup has now finished it remains to be seen if the praise it has received and attention it has attracted has positive effect on rugby at grass roots level.

Maybe in the weeks after the final you may see a short-term boost in people interested in the sport, either watching or juniors turning up for games.

But it is the long-term future of the sport that is important, and England’s poor performance in the tournament raises plenty of questions about the state of the game in this country.

We have the largest amount, over 500,000, playing rugby union in the world but we cannot make it through the knockout stages.

The selection policy needs looking at when the 2014 European Player of the Year, Toulon flanker Steffon Armitage, and this year’s winner, Clermont Auvergne full-back Nick Abendanon, are both left out because they play in France.

Surely you need your best players in the national team.