HUDDERSFIELD RUFC’s Francis Entressengle is one player definitely giving head coach Dan Hyde ‘a real headache’.
The 21-year-old student has returned home from Northumbria University on a 12-month placement, and is banging on the door for a first team starting slot at Lockwood Park.
Entressengle is currently working for first XV team manager Nick Bone’s Clayton West-based business, Steri-Pod (a decontamination service working with the NHS) and is keen to recapture a position he was starting to make his own, before moving away to study.
Hyde’s problem is that Entressengle (Franny to his friends) is best known as a hooker, and Ben Morrill was brought in last season from Old Brodleians to take over that position – a role which he has fulfilled brilliantly – leaving Entressengle to be employed mainly as a replacement.
He has started in three games so far this season, against Nuneaton, Sheffield Tigers and Luctonians when Morrill had to stand down for the mandatory couple of weeks because of concussion.
But in the other nine appearances he has made to date, it has been to replace Morrill at some point in the second half – although last week he did come on for flanker Ben Hoyle and certainly impressed in a new role at wing forward, and it was perhaps no coincidence that his appearance seemed to stiffen up the pack.
And Hyde has made no secret that ideally he would like to include both Morrill and Entressengle (who he rates very highly) in the team at the same time.
Although he prefers not to make a habit of it, versatility is not something new to Entressengle, who began his rugby career as a seven-year-old at Underbank rugby league club.
He changed tack to play Union just after Huddersfield moved to their new premises at Lockwood Park when he was 10, before having another short spell at Underbank when he was 16.
“I only went back to Underbank for a season when it looked as though the side in my age group might fold, but then I came back to Huddersfield, which is where I stayed until going away to University,” said Entressengle.
“The first year I was up in Northumbria, I was travelling back each weekend to help out because the then coach Mark Sowerby had little cover at hooker, but it wasn’t ideal as I was unable to train with the side, and only met up with them on match days.
“So last year I stayed up there and played with my Uni side, Team Northumbria, who play in the North I East League.”
Now on a year’s placement – he is studying Business with logistics and supply chain management – he is back at the family home in Beaumont Park, where he has lived for the last 16 years after being born in France, and is now trying to come to terms with playing at National League level.
“Obviously I’ve never played at such a high level before and it’s certainly a steep learning curve, as I’m still learning my skills at hooker, not to mention flanker which is completely new to me.
“I’ve played a little bit in the back row this season, but I enjoy playing at hooker, and don’t really want to be considered as a utility player because then you tend to be used more as cover, rather than being seen as a specialist.
“I only managed about half a season last year after tearing an cruciate ligament in my right knee round about Christmas and then picked up another injury while in rehab which set me back.
“Obviously I would like to continue playing with Huddersfield, but a lot depends on what happens next year when I’m back at Uni, and then future job prospects.
“From what I’ve seen so far, I think National II North is a very mixed league this year with no team really standing out and any team capable of beating any other. And from this point on, if we can mirror the first half of the season, then who knows what we can achieve?”