Six sign new deals with Plymouth Albion
THE experienced Keni Fisilau, Ryan Hopkins, Ruairi Cushion, Wayne Sprangle and Paul Bailey have all signed new contracts with Plymouth Albion, as has young prop Jack Andrew.
They join Sean-Michael Stephen, Aaron Carpenter and Bevon Armitage, who all signed two-year deals last summer, as confirmed members of Albion's 2012/13 squad.
But the club have revealed that Tyler Hotson, Tyson Lewis, James Love, Rob Dugard, Dan Collier, Mark Lee, Cameron Mitchell, Davy McGregor, James Harris and Owain Lloyd are definitely leaving Brickfields.
Those players have either not been able to agree new deals, not been offered new contracts or opted to sign for other clubs.
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Albion are still in negotiations with other members of their 2011-12 squad and hope to make further announcements soon.
"These are the guys that have put pen to paper," said head coach Nat Saumi.
"There are other guys who are supposed to, but we still have a bit of negotiating to go.
"But we should have more confirmed re-signings this week and some new signings."
Saumi is hopeful of signing some of the players that were either dual-registered or on loan at Albion last season who have since been released by their parent clubs.
But at the moment he is delighted to have the most experienced members of his squad tied to new deals.
Fisilau and Hopkins have been playing Championship rugby for a decade, while Sprangle, Cushion, Stephen, Carpenter and Armitage all have at least three or more years behind them at this level.
"Those are my key, experienced players and it is good to have those signed," said Saumi.
"They are the core of the team.
"With them at the club it will be easy for new players to come in and fit into the framework we are trying to put together."
Saumi is going to have to find new players to replace the likes of Love, Hotson, Dugard, Collier, Lewis and Lee, who were all regular first team squad players last term when fit.
"I have been looking at some new players," said Saumi.
"Contract wise it takes a while to negotiate and get things written down. You might have to change clauses in the contract and stuff like that.
"But I have got three more weeks before I go home for my holiday, so I am trying to get it all done by then."
Saumi admits second-row and full-back are priorities for him, having lost two of each.
When asked about the confirmed departures – there could yet be more – Saumi said: "There are a mixture of reasons (for them not staying).
"Some it was because of their agents, some were given a chance but did not improve or redeem themselves, some have injuries and it is still 50-50 whether they will be fit for the whole season and some of them might have been offered contracts by other clubs."
Saumi is still waiting for a number of last season's squad to confirm either way.
The likes of Gareth Evans, Rupert Freestone, Steve Johns, Dan Lee, David Morton, Paul Rowley and Sam Hocking have not been confirmed as staying or going.
Saumi hopes they will all stay but says he has got options available if necessary.
He said: "As a coach you have to have back-ups.
"Most of them know the time is so close for them to put pen to paper.
"I want to brief the squad on what is coming up during the season on June 1.
"But most of them it is just little things and they should be okay."
With Canadian international lock Hotson leaving Brickfields, Albion do have an overseas spot available.
And Saumi is believed to be looking to replace Hotson will another international lock.