Cornwall hope experienced stars will help title bid

Josh Matavesi in action for Bath
Camborne's Josh Matavesi has played top-flight rugby for Bath, Exeter, Racing Metro, Newcastle and Worcester [Getty Images]

Long-serving Cornwall back Matt Shepherd says the addition of some experienced players could help the Duchy reclaim their County Championship title.

Camborne-born Fiji centre Josh Matavesi, ex-England Sevens forward Mark Bright and Jersey fly-half Aaron Penberthy are amongst the names vying for selection for Cornwall's opening Bill Beaumont Cup match, at Surrey.

Cornwall missed out on the competition's final for just the second time in the past nine editions last season.

"There is some talent there and boys that have played a good standard of rugby," Shepherd told BBC Radio Cornwall.

"It's ace for the younger boys, they'll learn from them and with Josh training for the past couple of weeks it's been really good.

"Him giving his input and working alongside Marek Churcher and Chris Fuca and Graham Dawe has been really good.

"You're going to learn how other boys play and how Cornwall want to play - the DNA - there's a special DNA we've got and we don't try and go too far away from that."

Shepherd has been part of four County Championship-winning sides since his debut in 2013, helping Cornwall make seven trips to Twickenham.

After an opening-round trip to Surrey, Cornwall face another long away day at Kent a week later before rounding off the group stages with a home fixture against Hampshire at Redruth on 1 June.

Kent beat Cornwall last season and went on to win the title.

"We need to go into Kent with an open mind and not dwell on last year too much," Shepherd added.

"I think it was a bit of a kick in the teeth that we probably should have won that game and we didn't, and they went on and won.

"So we'll put our best foot forward and we'll go for that."

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