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London Raiders make case for their defence

PUBLISHED: 17:00 03 June 2016

London Raiders defenceman Jack Cooper (pic: John Scott)

London Raiders defenceman Jack Cooper (pic: John Scott)

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Defence comes first for coach Blyth

London Raiders defenceman Matt France (pic: John Scott) London Raiders defenceman Matt France (pic: John Scott)

London Raiders are building from the back as they continue their preparations for the 2016/17 National League season.

The club announced a major coup with the signing of experienced defenceman Julian Smith late last week, who returns to a gold and blue jersey after three highly successful seasons with rivals Chelmsford.

And head coach Alan Blyth has also agreed deals with blueliners Jack Cooper and Matt France, who both impressed as Raiders reached the play-offs last season.

He said: “I’m delighted to get Jack back for this season. Jack is composed on the puck and I feel he learnt a lot last season and matured as a player.

“He is still very young and will make mistakes, however given the ice time and guidance I’m sure he can be one of the best British defencemen in this league in years to come.

“Having worked with Jack for a number of years through the Romford junior system, I know he will always give his all when on the ice.”

France, a left-handed shooter, joined from Chelmsford midway through last season along with John Connnolly and caught the eye at both ends of the ice.

Blyth added: “I’m happy to have Matt back on back for 2016/17. He has great vision for the game and is passionate about playing the correct way.

“Matt was one that got away at the start of last season, who we missed greatly, but I was glad to see him return midway through the season and help shore up our defence.

“He is a big asset for the team on and off the ice.”

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