Whitehead already making his Mark!
PROUD Mark Whitehead is already relishing the challenge of leading Huddersfield in what could be a highly successful first National III North season.
The 24-year-old was a natural replacement for captain Mark Sowerby when the club’s director of rugby announced he would be concentrating on coaching this season.
During Huddersfield’s memorable North I promotion-winning campaign, Whitehead had a brief taste of leading his side into battle – and it couldn’t have proved more notable.
The mobile back-row forward led by example as he scorched over for a hat trick of tries as Huddersfield coasted to an impressive 49-24 triumph at Altrincham Kersal in North I nine months ago.
He’d got the nod that day in the absence of Sowerby, who was in Dubai competing in a Sevens tournament.
But that one taste as team leader proved beyond doubt Whitehead had what it took to be a future captain.
And in the space of three National games, the Mirfield-based player has clearly backed that up – and he couldn’t be happier.
“I’m loving this extra responsibility already,” said Whitehead, who was introduced to rugby when he was coached by former Huddersfield boss Russell Lawrance, the PE teacher at Mirfield Free Grammar School, who was later to persuade Mark to join him at Huddersfield RUFC and play in the Academy.
“I’m also very proud to lead the side, especially as the club is now playing at the highest level it ever has done.
“I suppose that makes the challenge of being captain even harder, but it’s one I’m really relishing.
“Even though we’re now competing at a very high level, I think we’ve already shown this is where we deserve to be.
“I feel it’s been easier for me to take over the captaincy because of the quality of players there are around me.
“As captain, you do obviously have to think about what the other 14 players are doing on the field as well as yourself, but I’ve not found that difficult at all.
“Everyone knows exactly what their role is, and a lot of my teammates are always willing to give their support and help organise the side, especially our half-backs, Chris Johnson and Damian Clayton.
“I find their input extremely important.
“On top of that, I also think they playing pretty well, too.”
In fact, that can be said of all those who have taken the step up this season.
Although Huddersfield are running with virtually the same side as in North I, they are already proving highly competitive in National III North.
A convincing home victory over Halifax and two battling away displays at established clubs Fyle and Harrogate have shown that, with Whitehead believing there’s far more to come.
“One of the big challenges at the start of this season was for everyone here to prove they can compete at this level,” he added.
“As far as I’m concerned, everyone has done that in just three games.
“You really can’t ask for more than that.”