JAMES BODSWORTH is set for a high-profile full league debut when Huddersfield begin their eagerly-anticipated first-ever National III North rugby union campaign at Fylde tomorrow (3.00).
But hooker James Davies must make do with a place on the bench, with boss Mark Sowerby plumping for the experience of Chris Gough in the key pack role.
Academy product Bodsworth is picked at lock ahead of Gavin Rhodes after impressing in the warm-up wins at Beverley and Chester.
“Gavin missed the pre-season friendlies due to work commitments and James took his chance really well and deserves his opportunity,” explained director of rugby Sowerby, whose own No8 shirt goes to Nick Sharpe.
Gough lines up between props Jim Howard and Tony Stringwell with Sowerby explaining: “It was one of the more difficult decisions, but Goughie has been around a bit longer so I’ve opted for the experience he can bring to the front row.”
Damian Clayton is back from honeymoon to take the scrum-half role and Tom Ainsworth plays at full-back after impressing at Chester. Winger Adam Sutcliffe also retains his place.
“This team is still relatively young,” added Sowerby. “My time as a player is over, as is (assistant coach) Neil Summers’. Now it’s the turn of the current players to take the bull by the horns.
“The future of the club is now firmly in their hands, and it’s up to them to step up to the new challenge.
“There will be no easy games. Every match will be like playing Kendal and Westoe, the hardest ones we had last season, and Fylde will be one of the toughest.
“But it will give us some sort of marker as to where we are and where we need to be.
“We’ve trained well and we are taking a strong side with a pretty strong and heavy bench, all of whom will be used during the match, as it’s a 19-man game at this level.
“We’re all very excited at the prospect of national league rugby. Now it’s up to the guys.”
Lytham-based Fylde, who produced former England captain Bill Beaumont and now have his son Sam in their ranks, narrowly missed out on promotion last season.
Huddersfield: Ainsworth; Sutcliffe, B Paxman, L Paxman, Shaw; Johnson, Clayton; Howard, Gough, Stringwell, Harris, Bodsworth, Hinchliff, Whitehead, Sharpe. Subs: McPhail, Davies, Rhodes, Mortimore.
Fylde: Waywell; Royle, Wiseman, Hunter, Brennand; Nutt, Aikman; Simpson, Holmes, Clark, King, Banks, Bowman, Wilks, Beaumont. Subs: Lewis, Tyms, Palmer, Edwards, Wallwork.
Referee: Guy Steele-Bodger (Rugby).