Homegrown Alex Battye is stepping up as captain as Huddersfield RU target a stirring finish to the season.
He leads out a new-look side against Harrogate at Lockwood Park on Saturday determined to launch a successful survival mission in National II North.
Danny Grainger is picked at inside centre after impressive displays with the Falcons, and Adam Tamanis gets the nod at tighthead prop because James Tideswell has been recalled by Yorkshire Carnegie.
Huddersfield have suspended skipper Nick Sharpe following an alleged outburst of foul and abusive language against the referee during last week’s agonising 13-12 defeat at Sandal, and they hope there will be no further punishment from the Yorkshire RFU.
Head coach Gareth Lewis is keen to move forward, especially as the club have 12 matches left to move themselves away from the bottom of the table.
“It was totally out of character for Sharpey, who is a fantastic captain and who will be sorely missed, but as a group we firmly believe we can press on and get the results we need,” said Lewis.
“There is no-one better to step in than Alex Battye, who is Huddersfield born and bred, one of the first names on the teamsheet and who is playing very well at the moment with two tries to his name last week.
“He led a meeting of the players in midweek which was really productive, so he has got all the credentials needed to be a very good captain.
“Alex will need the support of senior players like Joel Hinchliffe, Austen Thompson and Adam Malthouse among others, but he will get that and I’m sure he’ll do a very good job.”
Huddersfield are seeking revenge for a 28-7 defeat at Harrogate in October and Lewis feels freshening up the starting XV will have the desired effect.
“Danny Grainger has been getting excellent reviews in the second team, so he deserves a chance at inside centre ahead of Tom Owen at this stage,” explained the coach.
“Tom will be disappointed, obviously, but we are looking for the right response from him when he gets on, with the chance to show what he can do.
“Danny was in the Academy side which won the Yorkshire Cup last season and, with Lewis Workman and Lewis Bradley also in the starting line-up against Harrogate, it means three members of that cup-winning side have made the step up.
“Adam Tamanis will also have an important role at tighthead prop, so we are looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the mix.”
Lewis believes Field need only slight improvements in certain areas to turn results their way and explained: “We are not far away.
“We’ve lost six of our games by 10 points or fewer, so we are talking small margins over the season, and that gives us every incentive to keep on fighting and every belief we have the ability to turn it around – which we do.
“We’ve got a lot of talent in our squad and we just have to front up and go with a positive attitude and a fresh outlook for the rest of the season.”<p/>