Huddersfield Rugby Union Club can go under the radar and surprise a few sides in National II North says coach Gareth Lewis

Stronger squad should play with pride

Gareth Lewis (Coach) Huddersfield Rugby Union Club

Gareth Lewis believes Huddersfield can go “under the radar” this season and maybe finish in the top half of the National II North table.

The coach – who at 34 has been a PE teacher at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe for almost 10 years – is keen to tap into the Calderdale rugby union scene to pick up further hidden gems for his Lockwood Park squad.

The likes of Ben Morrill, Ben Hoyle, Tom Owen and Giles Hetherington have come from that area in the past and Lewis feels there is further talent to be picked up.

“It’s a real hotbed for rugby and one we are keen to tap into,” he said.

“Having played for Halifax, I have links to the area and, while we want to pick up the best players from National League that we can, we can also look for some hidden gems who have played in the lower leagues, like we have with Sam Walker and Josh Bird.

“The whole club is buzzing and, as my hometown club, it’s my passion. I have played for a number of clubs over the years, but I always said it was my ambition to come back to Huddersfield and I consider it an honour to coach the club.

“I try to instil that in the players, too, They are representing Huddersfield and they should play with pride.”

Lewis shies away from praise about winning promotion, saying it was a team effort.

“Lee Paxman deserves great credit, Ian Shuttleworth, my right hand man, is inspirational in the dressing room and Phil Gostling, as senior skills coach, has done a cracking job.

“We have so many good qualities around the place and, since he’s come in as team manager, Mike Baggs has done a cracking job as well.

“If I said we simply wanted to avoid relegation this season then we’d always be looking over our shoulder. We have a stronger squad and I think we can go under the radar a little bit and surprise a few people.

“Longer term we want to establish in National II and, even longer term – and we all want to go there – we want to be in National I.

“It would be great to see some of the big clubs down here, but we really do need the whole town behind us.

“We had an era at Halifax where, over four or five seasons, we regularly got crowds of 600 and more in National I, and we can achieve that if people come down to Lockwood Park, give it a go and catch the rugby union bug.”

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