Men’s team head coach reflects on Novotel success
9th January 2020
Simon Loftus, Head Coach of the England Senior Men’s team, talks about the squad’s first foray of 2020 after finishing second in the Novotel Cup in Luxembourg.
“The Novotel Cup is a good tournament. It’s reasonably local and a chance for us to play a bit – I’ve even played in it myself. We took quite an inexperienced team because of some injuries in the squad and a lack of availability for various reasons but it was a good opportunity to give them some experience. Nevertheless, based on the fact we had very little preparation – we only had one camp beforehand – and that we were missing some key players, I was very happy with our performance.”
Beating Iceland (3-1)
“I think we did quite well against a good Iceland side, particularly considering our team hadn’t played together in a long time and that it was Zach Omoshebi’s first start. I thought he did well. It took us a while to work them out and find any sort of rhythm, but I was happy with the win and the performance. With more time it would have been even better.”
Valuable experience against a tough Luxembourg side (0-3)
“I was actually okay with the Luxembourg game. They played in the European Volleyball Championship the last time around and are developing really well. They’ve been competing at a high level and taking sets off the likes of Holland. They have some outstanding players – although one of their best, Kamil Rychlicki, wasn’t at the tournament – a semi-professional league and a better structure than ours.
“When I was a player, we used to beat Luxembourg regularly but they’ve invested in a programme and have now moved into the Olympic Centre, it’s definitely something for us to aspire to and it was good for us to get a feel for where we’re at.
“There was a great atmosphere during the match, there must have been between 500-600 people in the crowd.”
A clash with Scotland (3-2)
“The Scotland game was a strange game because we lost the first set. We started really well, I think we were 5-1 or 6-2 up, and then we lost to 18. It was strange because I didn’t think we played badly. We won the next two sets really easily but then in the fourth they changed the setters, flipped the rotation slightly and it took us a bit of time to work out the rhythm for what the new setter was doing. The fifth set we won comfortably so it was just one of those things.
“I felt Liam Jenkins was fantastic. We struggled with our right sides and it took Jack Williams time to get into rhythm, as well as Zach Omoshebi, he took some time to find his rhythm. All these wee things need a bit more time and cohesion so that we’re all on the same page.
“Playing against Scotland is slightly different because they play with a lot more emotion – a chance to beat a home nation rival, all that sort of stuff. I’ve been part of that, I get it. We played them two years ago up in Newcastle with a full team and it was a very comfortable, very dominant win. Then Scotland beat us when we took a young team up to Scotland and so, because it was a young team again, they thought they had a good chance. They fight good. We took a bit of time to think but I didn’t think it was a particularly close game, I think we took too long to adapt.”
For more information on the Novotel Cup, please visit: www.novotelcup.lu.