THE new captain of Henley Hawks said he can only see one outcome if his side plays to its potential
THE new captain of Henley Hawks said he can only see one outcome if his side plays to its potential against Hartpury College this Saturday.
Henley travel to Gloucestershire this weekend on the back of seven straight wins and hot on the heels of National League 2 South leaders Worthing.
A win over third-placed Hartpury, who are eight points behind, would almost certainly guarantee a play-off spot and Martin Nutt believes the Hawks go into the match as favourites.
The 31-year-old, who took over the armband from Tom Allen last month, said: “We have to be in the same frame of mind we’ve had in the last seven games.
“This week we’ve just worked on tidying things up and if we take that into the game I can only see one outcome. We can beat anyone in the league.
“But they are third in the league for a reason. They play a good style of rugby and have that good mixture of experience and young quality players.
“It will be a good game. We know what they will bring to the table but for us as a team it’s not about what they can do but what we can do.
“If we play our game at the high standard we have been we’re confident we will get the result we need. Whether it’s four or five points, it’s about getting a win.
“When we play like we have been I don’t think there’s any team in the league that can live with us.”
A few weeks ago the league was a four-horse race but Redruth have slipped away recently, culminating in the 65-19 thrashing the Hawks dished out at Dry Leas on Saturday.
Nutt, who was moved from fullback to outside centre as part of a mid-season reshuffle, believes Henley have gone from strength to strength in that time after forging a winning mentality. He said: “It’s been more down to the mental aspect than through changing the way we’re playing. It shows in games we’re making less mistakes. Week on week we’re getting stronger and improving. Our squad has been tested to the maximum during that time and it shows what type of squad we have.
“As the season goes on we grow as players and as a team and now we know how everyone plays, what our strengths and patterns are. Everyone knows what we have to achieve and I think on Saturday we showed that against a team which is fourth in the league.
“You could see the class difference and that’s all down to the management and coaching staff.”
Nutt, who admitted he expected more of a challenge from Redruth, said his side knew they had to start well. That was evident as they raced into a 60-0 lead after an hour. He believes the improving weather conditions are suiting his side well as the firm ground accommodates their pacy style.
“We’ve got pace everywhere — our forwards and backs are quicker than those in other teams,” he said. “We’ve got the skill and it suits our style of rugby.
“It makes a massive difference because when we played away to Redruth [where the Hawks lost 17-11] it was boggy and that suited them more. Hopefully the conditions stay the same because other teams are going to struggle against us.”
Even if Henley win on Saturday, Nutt does not believe this will give his team mates the comfort of a likely play-off spot because they have loftier ambitions of winning the league and automatic promotion.
They are currently seven points behind Worthing, who they face at Dry Leas on the final day of the season, and have a game in hand.
Nutt said: “For us we’ve known for the last seven or eight weeks that if we win every game we will win the league.
“We want to win the league. We’re not thinking about securing second place with a win on Saturday because we feel we’re the best team in the league. We want to prove that.”
Nutt said the Worthing game will resemble a cup final atmosphere but insists there are games to win before then.
“The benefit is we’ve been strong at home all year and we know it’s going to be an exciting game,” he said.
“But we will look at Worthing when it comes to it and we’re taking it game by game. We know where we are we and know where we want to be.
Former Newbury player Nutt replaced Allen as captain last month after the fullback was being rested and he has kept the armband since Allen returned.
But Nutt said his role is “easy” because there are so many leaders in the team.
He added: “I’ve just done my bit before the game and made decisions during games but my job as captain is not a one-man job, it’s a collective.
“There’s not one real captain. Where we’ve been really strong is we have a lot of people who know what we have to do and when we have to do it.
“There’s a really good atmosphere in the team and the club. This is the best chance for Henley to get back to a league it should be competing in. We should be in the top half of National League 1.”