IF any Fylde RU player has a valid reason for feeling the strain as the team approaches the final stretch of an attritional season, it is prop forward Simon Griffiths.
He has spent the dark autumn and winter months making weekly 300-mile round-trips from Wales to Fylde for training and matches, while at the same time having to work in that exacting schedule with a full-time job and studying for a degree.
It is the type of hectic schedule that would have many a good man crying ‘enough’s enough’, but not Griffiths, who has been part of Fylde’s hugely successful season in National League One.
Speaking prior to tomorrow’s home clash with Macclesfield, Griffiths insisted: “I would travel further if I had to.
“In fact, I am feeling fresher than I ever have been actually – pretty strong.”
Griffiths joined Fylde at the start of the season from Liverpool St Helens, linking up with coach Mark Nelson, the pair having worked together in Lancashire’s County Championship-winning squad.
“I come up twice a week to train and play – it’s a long trek, 150 miles each way, but it is definitely worth it.
“Some of the away games are a bit of a contest, travelling down to places like London, but I am enjoying it, which is the main thing.
“It’s a long distance for me to travel, but I am prepared to do it every week.
“It’s a good standard of rugby – and you couldn’t ask for a better coaching staff at Fylde.
“For a lot of the away games, especially travelling north, Mark normally gives me a break because it is a long way to travel up and then get on to a bus after that.
“And he is in the lucky position of being able to change the front row around and keeping the props fresh.”
Away from rugby, Griffiths works as an electrical engineer at RAF Valley in Anglesey and has another two years to finish his Bachelor’s degree in engineering.
He said: “Things can be pretty tough, but work have been good with me. They let me slip off half an hour early some weeks, so I can get here early enough and be fresh.
“I leave at 4pm and start training at 7 – that’s 150 miles, which takes two-and-a-half hours some weeks.
“I am pretty lucky that the RAF let me use the gym on site as well. It’s a long day, but I would do it all over again – hopefully next season as well.”
Fylde go into tomorrow’s match in third place, with Macclesfield one place adrift, so it is very much a key North West derby. But Fylde are well used to tough encounters.
They had to dig deep last Saturday to beat Cambridge, their task not helped by losing three pivotal forwards to injury in the second half.
The Fylde pack ended with a real patchwork look about it, and Griffiths by necessity had to move from the front row to the unaccustomed position of lock.
Griffiths said of the Cambridge win: “It was tough and quick – they kept coming at us and the injuries showed towards the end, but we held together and defended well.
“It (losing players to injury) was not an excuse for letting our foot off the gas.
“We could have been a lot more clinical towards the end of that game, but the injuries showed. It is something that we need to work on.”
The Fylde coach, Nelson, paid tribute to Griffiths’ long, unremitting slog of travel to get to games and training.
“It just shows the commitment players have to Fylde and what the reputation the club enjoys.”