Walsham boosted by a star of Africa

CHRIS LAKEY North Walsham have signed a former Zimbabwe Test player to help add steel to their backs for next season's National League Division Three South campaign.


North Walsham have signed a former Zimbabwe Test player to help add steel to their backs for next season's National League Division Three South campaign.

Ian Noble, a 34-year-old who has represented his country six times and played in World Cup qualifying matches, met up with his new team-mates for the first time at a Scottow training session this week.

Director of coaching Jon Curry sees Noble as the missing link as he seeks to eradicate the glitches that saw the club fall out of the promotion picture at the very death last season.

"I have spoken to a lot of people who know the game and they speak quite highly of him," said Curry, whose team were forced into a play-off after a last-day defeat at Southend and then lost out to Nuneaton. "He is here to give us what we have been lacking in the last few years, which is a fly-half who is going to keep his composure and manage a game for us.

"He has bags of experience - he has played in the rugby union and rugby league World Cups so you could say he has a bit of experience. I think we have been lacking when it becomes really tight, a calming influence at 10, 12/13. We have the experienced heads in the forwards - we have had Tim Malone, we have had the Beast Masters Groom, Roussow and Loose, very experienced guys who have been around a while and can manage lots of things whereas in the backs sometimes we have been a loose cannon.

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"I think perhaps we may well have been lacking when it really mattered, especially that last game against Southend, the pressure just got a little bit too much and that unfortunately led to a loss."

Noble is not under contract at Walsham, who are maintaining their strictly amateur status.

"He wants to make England his home so it is a case of just getting him down here, seeing if he settles in, finding him some work and see where we go to from there," said Curry.

"It is a hugely significant move because he brings not only playing experience, but he has coached a bit, he has played in South Africa, he has played in Zimbabwe, he has played in World Cups, the guy has got masses of experience and will fit in well with (coach) Steve Worrell and make a good coaching partnership and a good management team, which is what it's all about, it is about improving that management team in the backs."

Noble has played in Scotland for the past five years, playing for Sterling County and, last season, coaching at Haddington in Scottish Premier League Division Two.

"I came and saw Jon and we had a chat and discussed the situation, where the club has been and how close they came to promotion last year and I said yes, I'd give it a go," said Noble. "It's a change of scenery for me after so long in Scotland."

Curry has also signed 23-year-old Ross McAllister, currently studying at Norwich City College. McAllister, who learned the game at school in Wymondham before moving via the town side to Northampton, where he spent time with the Saints Academy.

"I am still awaiting one or two confirmations - I am hoping by the end of the week I will be very happy with the summer," said Curry. "That will be us absolutely as strong and as recruited as I could possibly have hoped for.

"I am very happy with the recruitment side, very happy with the training, it is always hit and miss this time of the year, especially with it being so hot - we have farmers away on the harvest, we have people away on holiday, but we have some fantastic young players out there.

"There are still one or two local players I could do with getting my teeth into but they are proving elusive at the moment."