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Eagles coach looking to lace up boots again

Dual role: Jensen Rogers, right, chats with Paget Lions player Dion Stovell after coming off against BAA(Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Jensen Rogers plans to become player-coach at Somerset Eagles next season after leading the club back to the Premier Division.

Rogers, the team’s coach, opted not to transfer his paperwork to Eagles this term and ended up making a couple of appearances for Paget Lions in the top flight.

Last season, he achieved promotion as a player with Paget, who have struggled this season and are heading back to the second tier.

Rogers’s hopes of playing against at least one of his former teams in the Premier Division next season were dashed after Somerset Trojans also suffered relegation.

“It would have been nice to have a western derby [against Trojans],” Rogers said after his team’s win over Young Men’s Social Club last weekend, which keeps Eagles unbeaten before a title decider with Southampton Rangers next weekend. “The community would have really enjoyed that. With Paget you only get out what you put in and, this season, they didn’t put in the work.”

Rogers played a Shield match for Paget in December and in the league against BAA this month, both times after showing up to watch the game.

“With Paget, they have the talent and personnel there; it’s just about organising the players and setting them up for game day,” he said.

“They have the ability; it’s just having a disciplined environment and getting the best out of them on the Sunday.”

Rogers is determined that Eagles, who were relegated in 2017 after just one season back in the top flight, will give themselves every chance to build on this season’s success.

“I have spoken all season with the boys and told them we’re not playing this season for the First Division, we’re playing this season preparing for the Premier Division,” he said. “The mindset was that we had to train, had to be together because our togetherness could carry us as far as another team’s talent.

“We have to continue to do what we did this season and that’s put in the work and be committed. It’s different from being a player and winning promotion to sitting on the sideline and winning promotion. Hats off to the players, I couldn’t ask for more.

“I’m going to try to use all my experience as a player and now the experience I gained as a coach to try to shape these guys to achieve our goal of staying in the Premier Division. I spoke to the coaching staff and I’ll be there [as a player] for experience, to lend a helping hand. I’ll be registered as an option.”

For now, Rogers and his team are not looking any further than their clash with Rangers, when they hope to achieve what Rangers did last season by finishing undefeated in the league.

“It’s a great way to end the season with the top two teams,” he said. “Obviously, Rangers have [the title] in their hands as they can get a draw and still win the league. But then we still have our undefeated run to defend as well.

“To be this far and still be unbeaten, I’m sure the players are surprised; I’m certainly surprised.

“We’re going to shape up the same way we’ve shaped up all season and we’re going to be ready.

“I’m sure [Rangers] are going to be ready and we’ll see what happens on the final day.

“Hopefully, the Southampton and the Somerset communities will be out in full force, looking for an exciting match. We just want to give them that.”