HUDDERSFIELD’S experienced director of rugby, Mark Sowerby, is under no illusions as to what his side can expect to be up against this season.
The former Wakefield flanker, who steered the Lockwood Park side into the national league for the first time in the club’s 99-year history, has plenty of top flight experience himself, having played as high as National Division I while at the now-defunct College Grove club.
“I would be lying if I said we could win the League, and equally we have no ambitions of setting the League alight,” confessed Sowerby.
“But we are definitely not just there to make up the numbers, and although it is going to be a huge challenge for the club, we are undoubtedly looking forward to it.”
And although Huddersfield have so far only captured one signing, 38-year-old lock forward Luke Gross from Doncaster Knights (who will not be available until next month), Sowerby is hoping his charges will not only survive this season, but subsequently prosper in National III North.
However, he does confess that Huddersfield face the toughest possible start on Saturday when they travel to Lytham St Annes to play Fylde.
“We need to get off to a good start, but undoubtedly Fylde will be a really hard challenge as I expect them to be in the top bracket in our league this season.
“That is not to say we are going over there to lie down, but I don’t want it to be seen as too much of knock-back if we do get beaten.
“Certainly teams in this league will be much more organised than the majority of those we came up against last season, and if you are not just as organised and prepared to put bodies on the line then you will struggle at this level.
“But I believe that our tremendous team spirit will hopefully carry us through some of the tougher games.
“I’m sure we are going to find that the pace of games is a lot different, and I think there will be some smaller packs which will make for a less forward-orientated game, and that should benefit us.”
Huddersfield may also find that new rules brought in this season could help their cause, such as legalising the collapsing of mauls and the change in line-out laws which means there is now no longer a need for equal match-ups.
“Obviously the law regarding mauls will prevent instances where huge packs were allowed to steam-roller lesser sides, and that in itself should make for a quicker and more open game,” added Sowerby.
“And the bonus points system in the National League should also prove of more interest. In National III, there are four points for a win, while a side can pick up an additional bonus point if they score more than four tries, or alternatively if you are losing, you can also grab a bonus point if the defeat is by a margin of seven points or less.
“So there are opportunities there for a team who may have had a few poor results, who can suddenly string three or four good wins together, to collect some decent points and move up the table.”
There are certainly not going to be any easy games whatsoever in National III, but after Saturday’s game, Huddersfield then entertain Calderdale neighbours Halifax next up (Sept 13) and will be eyeing that, along with trips to Harrogate and a home game with Macclesfield, as possible chances to boost an early points haul.