Kohler rises to the task but misses his old team

EX-LUTON Rugby star Mark Kohler has admitted he misses Newlands Road despite making his mark in the Championship with near neighbours the Bedford Blues, writes Mark Wood.

Friday, 17th February 2012, 10:00 am

The young winger touched down his sixth try of the season in Saturday’s 29-17 win over Plymouth Albion, but revealed he is still taking a keen interest in the National League Three London & South East club.

He said: “They’ve lost a lot of players this year. But they are a great club. A lot of clubs now are doing not so well because of the financial situation, but Luton seem to be keeping their head above water and doing really well.

“I go down as often as I can during the season, particularly when I’m not playing here to watch games. I went down a couple of weeks ago, unfortunately they lost, but it’s still a great set-up and they are lovely people down there and I really do miss playing there to be honest.”

Kohler cast aside the setback of a broken ankle to secure a deal at Goldington Road in the summer and he is relishing the experience of Championship rugby and playing in front of big crowds.

He said: “Last year I broke my ankle in pre-season and was out for nine months. I did all my rehab here (at Bedford) and I came back and played a couple of games with Luton.

“I came back and played against the Baa Baas in the last Mobbs game last year, which was nice.

“I expected to go back on trial last year, in the summer of 2011, but they said they wanted to sign me, so happy days really.

“It was a bit of a setback obviously, but it made me work harder for my place. Injuries happen so often. Handre Schmidt’s been out and he will be working hard and when he comes back we will all be pushing for our places.

“I think I’ve adapted really well and am really enjoying it at the moment.

“I had a break just after Christmas when Pritch came back from the World Cup. I got sent out on loan to Cambridge which taught me as well.

“The aim is to get my hands on the ball as much as I can and Mike’s said to me he wants the wingers to touch the ball at least 12, 15 times a game and that’s just down to workrate as well. It’s not all about tries, there’s plenty of tries throughout the team and tries are just a bonus for me.

“I’ve really enjoyed it, the team have accepted me really well, and I can’t wait for another season, I’m looking forward to it.”

But he admits there have been plenty of areas of his game he has needed to improve.

Kohler continued: “It’s been tough in areas. When I first came there were a lot of areas I needed to work on and sat down with Mike Rayer and he said you’ve got to work on this and this.

“Just watching some of the other players like Handre and Josh Bassett I’ve really been able to up my game since the New Year.

“It was more workrate and running off rucks as well. At Luton, whereas you can get away with standing on the wing and then be passed the ball and beat a few players, here you can’t really do that, you really have to work.

“Workrate’s a big thing here and Josh has an unbelievable workrate and that’s why he’s scoring so many tries.

“Another one was kicking as well, there were a few grey area especially with my kicking. But now I’ve worked on them.”

He has also thrived playing in front of the 3,000-plus crowds at Goldington Road, saying: “I like it, I don’t get nervous per se playing rugby. I enjoy it. The more the merrier really.”

And he’s also relishing the forthcoming Championship play-offs with a potential place in the Premiership at the end of it.

He said: “I reckon it will be a mix-up really. Some teams have had their ups and some teams their downs so it should be interesting and there should be some good results.

“I will take it one step at a time, play my own game and see how it goes.”

And while he doesn’t expect to be a regular starter, he is ready and waiting for the call.

Kohler added: “After Christmas and the New Year we all sat down as a team, and Mike said he wanted more consistency throughout the team.

“We’ve been given our chances in the early stages of the season. But anything can go.

“A body injury or someone can have a bad game and you’ve got to come in and make an impression.

“There’s a lot of competition anyway for the shirts, that’s all down to training. You work hard in the week and see where you’re placed.

“I’m not expecting to be starting or playing every game in the play-offs at all. All I can do is go out, especially in games like this one at the weekend, and do my best and prove I’m worthy to play.

“I’m ready to play. I know I’ve jumped up a few leagues especially from Luton, but I feel I can adapt, I feel I can play at this level.”