Russell Earnshaw may have had his eyes on more than Tal Selley’s prolific try-scoring record when he offered the Wales Sevens international a chance to shine at Birmingham & Solihull.
The Bees player coach yesterday confirmed he has agreed the one-year deal that brings the mercurial winger to Sharmans Cross Road for the inaugural Championship season.
And he has also added Leicester academy product Ricky Aley, who guided Nuneaton to the National Three North title last season, to a newly promoted squad that is coming off its own league winning campaign. But of all the medals on show in Solihull, Selley possesses one that Earnshaw prizes above all others following the Principality’s shock triumph in the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens last March.
Earnshaw was part of the England coaching set-up in Dubai and for a group that went in as one of the favourites to lift the trophy, a quarter-final defeat at the hands of Samoa was a bitter pill to swallow.
So when the 80-1 outsiders Wales went on to defeat the Pacific Islanders in the semis and Argentina in the final, Selley scoring in both, the upset victory was greeted with rather less enthusiasm on this side of Offa’s Dyke.
Earnshaw maintains comments describing the champions as a ‘pub team’ did not come from his mouth, though photographs of Selley holding aloft the Melrose Cup will nevertheless not be too conspicuous in his office at Portway.
“You cannot argue with what happened on that strange day in Dubai,” Earnshaw says. “Suffice to say I would have argued that nice Welshman is an oxymoron – but Tal’s exactly that.”
The 29-year-old is also a big talent and as well as being named Player of the Tournament in the Emirates, he brings a reputation as free-spirited threequarter who can play either wing or outside centre.
“He is a great addition to our backline,” Earnshaw says. “With Will Lawson, Reece Spee, Mitch Culpin and Simon Hunt we have a good deal of depth in the back three, which we are going to need this season.”
Earnshaw is also pleased to secure the teenage Aley who, he claims, has experiences beyond his tender 18-years.
“Ricky has got good game management for such a young lad. He understands the game well and he’ll give Mark Woodrow the competition we need.
“Last year Woody knew he was going to start every week so it’s going to be good to have a bit of depth in that position.”
Selley and Aley bring to eight the number of new players at Bees next season, which includes Canadian international lock Stuart Ault.