CHRIS KIRWAN SAYS: Swiss army knife players = gold
1:40pm Thursday 24th May 2012 in Chris Kirwan
THE NAMES of Ibrahima Bakayoko, Nii Lamptey, Tommy Svindal Larsson, Kennedy Bakircioglü and Andri Sigporsson will always be remembered by men of a certain generation.
They were star players in the world of Championship Manager, an engrossing football management computer game from the 90s.
World beaters on the PC monitor, distinctly average on grass.
But it the virtues of a certain Niclas Alexandersson – a pretty ordinary Swede when he played for Sheffield Wednesday and Everton – are becoming increasingly important in the world of rugby.
He could be snapped up from Gothenburg for a pretty reasonable fee and not only that, he had the ability to play D/M/F, RLC.
Those that ventured out into the sunlight rather than pretending to be ‘the gaffer’ might need that explaining – he could play in defence, midfield or attack on the right, left or centre.
Back in the real world, such versatility is like gold dust to rugby coaches operating with tight budgets.
Squad numbers have been cut in these austere times and Swiss army knife players like Jevon Groves, Lewis Evans, Andrew Coombs, Andrew Hughes and Dan Evans are invaluable to Newport Gwent Dragons.
The ability to play another position or more is so important and players are increasingly being asked to add more strings to their bow.
In the last Six Nations Wales featured lock/blindside Aaron Shingler at openside in the absence of Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric while George North could soon be unleashed from midfield as well as the wing.
All players are motivated by the desire to be thrown the same jersey week in, week out.
It used to be the way that those blessed with versatility were recipients of sympathy as they were shifted from position to position.
But being a jack of all trades is certainly no longer a hindrance. In fact, it’s a major plus in a sport where contracts are increasingly hard to earn.
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