HUDDERSFIELD rugby union chief Mark Sowerby is yet to make his first close-season signing ahead of the club’s new National III challenge – but he’s refusing to press the panic button.
Despite hanging up his boots and losing two other key men, the experienced former Wakefield forward is confident his current squad can hold their own at level four of the English club game.
“I’m still looking to bring in some new faces, but I won’t be making signings for the sake of it,” said Sowerby, who led his team to promotion from North I through the play-offs.
“I’ve been handed a budget which I’m happy with, but any people coming in have to be right for this club.
“Talks have been held with a number of players, but when their first question is how much money’s on the table, you wonder about their motivation.
“We’re now at the same level as the likes of Bradford and Bingley, Halifax, Harrogate and Hull Ionians, so we’re all fishing from the same pool when it comes to new recruits.
“I won’t be forced into an auction situation, and we certainly don’t want to spoil the excellent team ethos built over recent years.”
Sowerby had hoped to persuade new coach Glen Wilson to take over his No8 shirt, but the former Yorkshire captain, who played for Wakefield, Otley and Doncaster, has followed medical advice by retiring because of a knee problem.
But he believes Wilson’s contacts and reputation within the game will help attract players to Lockwood Park as Huddersfield adjust to the departures of influential Kiwis Hamish Pratt, who has joined Ilkley as player-coach, and Tim Collins, who has returned to New Zealand.
National III regulations prevent the signing of overseas players, a route Huddersfield have gone down in the past.
First up for Huddersfield are Fylde away on Saturday, September 6 and Sowerby, who has fixed up friendlies at Beverley on August 23 and Chester on 30, added: “We’ve been back in training for around a month and all the players are looking forward to proving themselves at the higher level.
“We’re under no illusions as to how tough it’s going to be, but we’re confident of being able to consolidate our new status and set a platform for future development.”