Eugene Martin, Pertemps Bees’ new backs coach, has vowed to use all his experience, including three years as a professional powerlifter, to help the club sharpen their cutting edge.
The Sharmans Cross Road outfit have unveiled the 40-year-old New Zealander as the latest addition to their coaching team and the signing of two players, prop Craig Voisey and second-row John Harlock, to add ballast to their pack.
But it is the recruitment of Martin, who played for New Zealand Maori during six years as a fly half with the Waikato Chiefs, that is most important for a side that looks doomed to relegation from National One because of their shortcomings in attack.
While that status is not certain - the Rugby Football Union have yet to decide on whether they should be awarded a win from their match with Cornish Pirates - what is clear is the fact that Bees scored the second-fewest points last term and struggled not only to kick goals but to get over the opposition line as well.
Flanker Andy Daish was their leading scorer with eight tries while full back Reece Spee was the most potent threequarter with only five, helped in no great part by the fact Bees failed to field a regular fly half.
But Martin, who has signed a two-year deal, will hope for a more settled backs cordon with Mark Woodrow signed up to play outside half and Spee under contract for next term as well.
Indeed, the former strongman already knows Woodrow and head coach Russell Earnshaw having worked with them at Doncaster during the 2006-07 season. While Woodrow remained at Castle Park last term Earnshaw moved to Solihull and Martin was charged with opening up forward-dominated Rotherham Titans.
He did this to good effect and although Rotherham endured an disappointing season they became a more balanced and expansive side that won at Sharmans Cross Road on the opening day of the campaign.
“This is the next stage of my career for me,” Martin said. “I stopped play last year and enjoyed coaching so I now want to put something back into the game and help younger guys have their turn.
“I am really happy to have this opportunity and working alongside Russ will be good because we have got the makings of a good team, one that agrees on the way the game should be played. I was brought in at Rotherham to open them up and although the season didn’t go as we hoped by and large we managed to achieve that.”
If Martin can’t breach defences with guile, there is every chance his charges will do it with brute force providing they listen to a man who spent a considerable time competing as a body-builder.
“I met a neighbour when I was playing rugby for West of Scotland and he introduced me to the sport. I loved doing weights, anyway, and by the end had gone from a rugby-playing weight of 88 kilograms to 130kg. But it is very difficult at the top level with all the Scandinavian and Eastern European guys who are 6ft 5in and 160kg. To go further in the sport you maybe have to take other substances which I was not prepared to do.
“We’ve already got a conditioning specialist at Bees so I won’t interfere there but if the boys need some help with any of their cross training - stuff like carrying heavy tyres - I’ll do everything I can.”
Martin returned to rugby as player-coach with Sheffield Tigers, with whom he enjoyed three promotions, and eventually moved on to Doncaster and Rotherham.
He will have to build bridges before he starts at Sharmans Cross Road, however, having been the fulcrum of the Tigers side that beat Bees’ amateur arm Solihull at Twickenham in the final of the Powergen Junior Vase in 2005. “I’ll make my apologies and do some coaching for them,” he quipped.
For his part, Earnshaw is pleased to have found someone to fill a position that has remained vacant since December last year when Ben Harvey was sacked. “Craig is a good honest guy,” the head coach said. “He will bring a lot to the club. We have been very good defensively this season but I would be the first to admit our attack looked blunt. Rotherham had a good backs outfit this season and Eugene will improve us in that area.”
Earnshaw also revealed the addition of Voisey, from Belfast Harlequins and Cambridge’s Harlock. The 23-year-old tighthead has represented Welsh Universities and the Irish Exiles and his recruitment will make up for the departure of last year’s starter Pete Bucknall. There is further good news in the retention of No 8 Leo Halavatau.