THE only Coventry player to figure in all 30 games and the second-highest points scorer in National League One, Will Maisey can look back on a season which far exceeded his own expectations when he returned to Butts Park last summer.
The 24-year-old fly-half and sometimes centre made 20 starts and ten replacement appearances, racking up 245 points and improving his all-round game as the season progressed.
““It’s not something I expected at the start of the season. so I was very grateful to get the amount of minutes that I did,” said Maisey, whose battle for the 10 jersey with Tony Fenner was a feature of Cov’s campaign.
“We’ve got so many good goal kickers – guys like Cliffie Hodgson and Tony Fenner, their kicking stats are ridiculous – so to also get as many points as I did, I’m extremely happy.
“I managed to play in every single game, at least a few minutes, and that’s the first time I’ve done that – it became a personal target midway through the season, and I’m very happy that I got there.”
Maisey almost missed out on the final game at Loughborough Students after picking up an injury at the start of the week, and handed over the kicking role until the final 25 minutes when he landed a penalty and two tricky conversions which proved crucial in the 27-22 win.
“I pulled my hamstring on the Monday before,” he said. “Actually, Nick Walshe skinned me in training and I thought to save myself some embarrassment I’d run back and chase, and I just tweaked it then.
“Thankfully, Hannah and the physios did a good job and I was able to play, although I wasn’t expecting to play 80 minutes
“The kicking was something we spoke about on Tuesday. I didn’t want to push it and strain it during the game and I wanted to last as long as possible, so giving up the kicking duties was something which helped me get through the full 80 minutes.
“It was disappointing in a way because I wanted to get as many points as I could, obviously it was a decision for the team and not for myself.”
Maisey’s kicking proved invaluable in a number of tight games – particularly the last-gasp home wins over Plymouth Albion, Old Albanian and Birmingham Moseley before Christmas – as he showed an ice-cool temperament, and the general improvement in his game was noticeable over the second half of the season.
“Confidence is one of the main things and the fact that I’ve got so many good coaches here at the moment, just guiding me along, helps so much,” he said.
“It helps as well having players like Tom Wheatcroft at 12, just talking me through the game, it makes my job easier.
“I’m just following orders from the coaches and trying to implement my own game at the weekend, and with more and more confidence and more game time things just seem to have got better.
“I wouldn’t say there is anything that I’ve worked on in particular. Nick and a few of the coaches have given me some advice on how to manage the game better and I think that has helped, but I think that having the quality of players around me that I have is making my own job easier – games have opened up a bit more for me and I’m starting to see gaps appear in defences.
“I practice kicking every Thursday and then I do a bit before the game as well. I possibly could do it once more a week, but I don’t like to try too hard in practice, I just like to get a rhythm going. Once you’ve got that, it becomes sort of second nature. It’s not easy, but it just becomes a habit.
“When I’m stepping up to the tee I’m just thinking about the process and not too much about what the kick actually means in the context of the game and the pressure of the kick – it’s just making sure I’m doing the same thing over and over again, and the same result should happen.
“I get stick from a few guys that I walk too slowly to the ball and take too much time, but I quite like the way I do it – it adds to the excitement!
“I’ve got so much respect for Fenner. He’s such a good player and has helped me over the season. He came on with the tee at Old Albanian the other week, telling me what sort of things he was seeing from the sidelines and giving me ideas which I was able to put into the game.
“It really helps having that tough competition for places, it’s a real spur. You want to get as many minutes as you can and you want to be the one starting in the position, but Tony is a quality players with so much experience and it’s great that he’s helping me along the way as well.”
Added Maisey: “As a squad, I think we’ve come on leaps and bounds, and I think there’s still more to come from us as well which is really exciting.
“We’ve got so much talent in the squad, and now we’re starting to build up some momentum as well which I think really stands us in good stead for next season.
“We just need to carry on ad keep improving, and the new guys coming in are just going to add to the quality and the competition we’ve already got, which is great.
“I’m looking forward to it already. It’s nice to have a few weeks off and have a relaxing time on holiday, but I’m already very excited for the season ahead – I can’t wait.
“I’ve really enjoyed this year. Rowland Winter spoke to me around Christmas time, saying he was happy with my performances and wanted me to stay for next year and, for me, at the moment everything is right – I work five minutes away from the ground, I get Mondays off for training, everything is convenient, and I’m really happy here.
“The support is amazing – our fans are the best in the league and to see so many at Loughborough on Saturday was just incredible. At away games you can only hear the Coventry fans.
“I’ve had one season in the Championship, I really enjoyed it and I feel I’m capable of playing at that level.
“I’d really like to get back there and it would be amazing if it was with Coventry – it’s the first club I was really part of, it’s my local team and the one I want to see doing well.”