Saints preparing to swoop for Shepherd

Saints preparing to swoop for Shepherd

Matt Shepherd could be set for a sensational return to Tregorrick Park. PICTURE: PAUL WILLIAMS

By Gareth Davies

26th May 2021

St Austell are closing in on a sensational swoop for local favourite Matt Shepherd, the Voice can exclusively reveal.

It is understood that Shepherd, who cut his formative rugby teeth with Saints and was instrumental in their last promotion to South West One West in 2014, won’t be returning to Plymouth Albion.

Shepherd had agreed a deal to play for the Devonians in 2020-21 after opting to leave Redruth although owing to the covid-19 pandemic, the season never went ahead. This would have been Shepherd’s second spell at Brickfields after he first joined the National League One outfit from Launceston in 2015.

During his time across the Tamar, Shepherd became a constant fixture in the Albion side and he also helped Cornwall to multiple Bill Beaumont Cup triumphs, which included kicking the winning points in the Duchy’s 2019 triumph over Cheshire.

Since his last competitive match for Redruth in March 2020, Shepherd has set up his own coaching school which is based at Tregorrick Park and with rugby now allowed to begin again under adapted rules, he was named at outside centre in Saints’ friendly against Penryn on Friday.

The match was sadly abandoned after 30 minutes with St Austell leading 12-0, due to a suspected neck injury suffered by Borough lock Dylan Pollock, which was thankfully not as serious as first feared.

After the match, St Austell player-coach Kyle Marriott revealed that it would be ‘fantastic’ if Shepherd did return to his boyhood club for next term. “We would love to have Shep here,” Marriott enthused. “There are still some things to be sorted out, but to have him around, as a St Austell boy through and through, it would be fantastic if he decided to come back here full-time.”

Shepherd himself, when asked by the Voice about his whereabouts for the 2021-22 campaign, declined to comment on speculation linking the utility back with a move back to his former home.

Meanwhile, Marriott added that having a crowd backing his side for the first time in 14 months was something that ‘spurred’ his team on.

“It was great to have people back in here because it has been a really strange 12 to 18 months,” he added. “I know that is something that everyone will say, but I have just tried to keep the boys going and we’ve been quite privileged to be able to get together more than lots have.

To hear people back in here cheering and shouting was great, and it certainly spurred the boys on out there.

“It was good to get out there and get something meaningful, but I have pitched it to technically build for September because we are a newly-promoted side going into a new league and we need to use every opportunity we can.”