The UKPA has named Alex Richardson as the new reserve for their World Cup squad, after James Davidson moved up into the team following the shock withdrawal of Guy Robertson earlier this week.
Alex is the youngest member of the 8 strong team, at just 20 years of age. He was named in the original 16 strong squad but then didn’t make the final 8. However, now the selectors have decided that he should be the new reserve. This comes after he had an excellent playing season in 2010, which saw him win the A grade National Championship with Kent Target, having switched to them from Highlanders half way through the season, and then he won Best Number 1 at the UKPA annual awards dinner in November.
If the UK were to lose another player and Alex was to be called into the final team there might be a question mark over his lack of experience at the highest international level, he has never played for the UK men’s side before and actually missed the last couple of Under 21 test matches due to horse injuries, however he has gained a great deal from playing alongside players such as Guy Robertson and Jason Webb over the last few years at Highlanders and Kent and there is no doubt that he is an incredibly skillful and committed young player and he will gain a great deal from training with the squad over the coming months. He will undoubtedly be one of the UK’s key players over the next few years and the selectors obviously feel that it is important to give him as much experience of international competitions as early as possible, probably with an eye on him being ready for the 2015 World Cup in 4 years time.
Amongst the other players the UKPA could have picked were Jono Keen and Joel Sics, however they both ruled themselves out early on due to other commitments. Simon Shearing, the UK coach, who also played alongside Alex at Kent Target last year, said that he felt he still very much had a World Cup winning squad and that Alex would be a key part of that. He said that now the training for the World Cup really intensified, with the team due to meet regularly over the next few months to work together so that he could decide on the tactics for the competition and how exactly they would play. The team are apparently in good spirits and keen to get underway, the one problem at the moment is the lack of a big sponsor to help support and fund their training programme. It is believed that the UKPA is looking for a sponsor and have appealed for any companies who might be interested in sponsoring the team and seeing what they will receive in return for their sponsorship to approach them.