Raiders head coach Saunders keen to get his teeth into development process

Mark Saunders has been appointed as head coach of Romford Junior Raiders (Pic: Raiders)

Mark Saunders has been appointed as head coach of Romford Junior Raiders (Pic: Raiders) - Credit: Archant

Newly-appointed Romford Junior Raiders NIHL1 head coach Mark Saunders is looking forward to getting his teeth into the job by developing the club’s young talent.

The former Bracknell Hornets coach was revealed as taking over the reigns from Ben Pitchley and he is now excited to get started.

The 34-year-old says a few experienced guys will be important but he believes there is plenty of young talent that he hopes he can get into the Raiders National League outfit in the future.

“It’s very different to juniors, obviously for the last two years I’ve done seniors, and it’s very much helping players fine tune their game,” Saunders admitted.

“You’ve got older players that are happy to bring what they bring and give the experience to the roster.

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“Obviously to help me out it’s good to have those experienced players, those are guys that I lean on a lot, and I know Romford have those senior players that will help me out and will be key pieces during the season.

“The youngsters, the guys that are really hungry to make that next step is something that excites me, and the fact that I can have a direct impact on their development and their pathway to the next step of hockey.

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“It’s something I can really get my teeth into and help out the guys that want to make that step.”

Saunders is delighted to have brought in netminder Tom Annetts to help bolster their chances when it comes to results but says the focus remains on development.

“The team obviously from last year has lost a couple of players, Tommy Huggett has gone up and he was a big scorer for the team but I know that scoring goals shouldn’t be a problem as there is pieces that have been replaced.

“A massive part was keeping goals out and I think we’ve made that change by getting Tommy in, no disrespect to anyone that was in last season, but Tommy is huge in big games when you really need it.

“I would like to see us top half and there is definitely room to do that, but I’m not going to swing for the fences and say we will be top 2 or 3 as you don’t know how things are going to get going, and we have the small issue of a pandemic getting in the way of us even starting at all.”

“League positions are not the be all or end all not when you’re trying to develop players but everything is of course easier when you’re winning.”

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