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Westren the younger relishes county call-up

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: March 06, 2014

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THERE may be 65 days to go to the start of Cornwall's Bill Beaumont Championship Cup campaign against North Midlands at Redruth, but planning for the county's annual assault on Twickenham is well under way, writes Rhod Mitchell.

At Kingsley Village, Fraddon, last week players, coaches and CRFU officials got together to lay down the way ahead.

And it will be the first season for many years without Cornish coaching legend Dave "Benji" Thomas in command. Former England hooker Graham Dawe and Ian Morgan are the new coaches, after Thomas decided to step down.

In all, some 34 players were in attendance to meet the coaches and exchange ideas.

And in the county set-up for the first time was Penzance's Murray Westren, who is hoping to follow elder brother Ryan into the county side. The 24-year-old Redruth fly-half said he was excited about his first Cornwall call up.

He said: "I would love to have a chance to play. It's my first call up to the county squad.

"My brother has played all the age groups and for the senior side. But as a latecomer to the game this is first time I have been involved in a county side at any level.

"It's a big squad, but I'll just have to see how things pan out. A lot can happen as the games are close together. If a chance comes my way I will take it. I've had a chance to prove my worth at Redruth this season. Moving from full back to the fly-half role has been a challenge, but I feel that it's now my preferred position on the park.

"It would be nice to play on the same side as my brother as we always seem to play against each other, I think Dad (Pirates media officer Phil) would be pretty chuffed too."

New coach Dawe said he was looking forward to the challenge, as Cornwall, who lost in last season's final against Lancashire, bid to make a return to Twickenham and win the Championship for the first time since 1999.

He said: "It's the hardest thing, the massive expectations from the people in Cornwall. We've got to live with it, there is no point in trying to hide away from it. We've got to move forward and do the best with the players we have.

"The competition comes at the end of a hard long season and you have deal with that. But also it's a change for the players, something a little different to what they have been involved in during the season so hopefully they will respond to it as a fresh challenge.

"I have had some great days playing for Cornwall with wonderful support for the teams I played in. The Cornish people have always got behind their team and supported it through thick and thin. There is no other county quite the same.

"Pulling on the Cornish shirt is a great identity for players. It's something all Cornish rugby players aspire to. We have picked a large squad, but it's not just about this season it's about developing the county side for future years.

"Some players may not get a chance this year, but they will have been groomed for the future and will feel part of the set up.

"I am really looking forward to the task, following on from "Benji" is a big ask, but one I am relishing."

Cornish All Blacks second row forward Ben Hilton will again captain Cornwall for a third successive season.

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