INJURED captain George Evans has paid tribute to stand-in skipper Adam Balding after Cinderford survived their National One relegation battle.
Number eight Evans (above) has been sidelined with a knee injury since the Foresters’ 35-29 defeat to Fylde in March.
Former Gloucester captain Balding has led the team for the remaining six fixtures and successfully steered them to league safety with Evans a keen observer.
“I am learning more and the experience of being captain has been a massive learning curve,” he said.
“I have watched Adam while I’ve been injured. He is a very cool character. I watch how he handles the lads and the games.
“He’s very cool, very calm and having someone like Adam involved is huge for us.
“The boys look up to him, he’s been there, done that, he’s got the T-shirt. It’s nice having him around and fingers crossed he will be here next year too.”
Cinderford finished the National One season with a 55-26 win over Wharfedale, a result that secured an 11th-placed finish, six points clear of the drop zone.
And Evans believes the club can flourish next season, and he is keen to carry on in a leadership role.
The 25-year-old has secured a new job in the area and is keen the club kick on after the “massive” boost of avoiding relegation.
He said: “It feels fantastic. To be in this league next year, and to be captain, is huge. It’s going to be huge next season.
“We believed in ourselves. After Christmas we had a few good results and we just stayed positive.
“I most definitely want to be captain again. It’s something I am learning, throughout the season I have got better and better.
“Hopefully there will be a lot of lads who stick around next season and that will put us in good stead for next year.”
Evans has seen a knee consultant in a bid to get fit as soon as possible before pre-season begins in earnest.
The back row forward is closing in on 200 appearances for Cinderford which will be a massive target to aim at next season.