Hendon hope Saracens’ success can rub off on them

The Hendon squad gather at the Allianz Park (Pic: Paolo Minoli)

The Hendon squad gather at the Allianz Park (Pic: Paolo Minoli) - Credit: Archant

They might have just been promoted to Herts/Middlesex Division One, but Hendon hope that having Saracens as neighbours will pay further dividends this season.

Hendon have been granted permission to train at Allianz Park during the week, on Sarries’ newly-relaid 4G pitch. The artificial pitch caused controversy when the stadium was opened in 2013, but has since contributed to two Aviva Premiership titles, and triumphant campaigns in the European Champions Cup and LV Cup.

If this link brings just a miniscule amount of prosperity to John Casalaspro’s side in 2016/17, it will have been a success.

But Hendon also have a new coach supporting Casalaspro at the helm – former first-class rugby player, Brimah Kebbie.

Joining after leaving his previous role at Hillingdon Abbots over the summer, Kebbie brings a wealth of coaching experience, following a playing career at the top level of both union and league.

Hendon’s promotion has resulted in a largely unchanged squad for the upcoming season, although there will be a notable absence in the back line as Derry O’Connor has returned to Ireland to continue his studies.

The current squad lined up against an Old Albanians XV last weekend in a friendly match of four quarters, with Hendon leading 17-12 with 15 minutes to play.

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In the end, the fitness and experience of the National League One outfit shone through as they avoided a scare and saw the game out 38-17.

Casalaspro’s men start the season at UCS Old Boys on Saturday, and club president David Gershlick thinks that the result will shape the club’s ambitions for the coming months.

He said: “I want to see good things on the pitch against UCS Old Boys. We have been a number of leagues apart in recent years so it is going to be interesting to see where we both lie and Saturday will shape our expectations and show us where we stand.

He continued: “We have been training at Hendon but now we will be training at Allianz Park on the best pitch in the world – I really hope that this new facility will attract more players, of all abilities, to the club.”