Huddersfield RU will have two new signings in James Purcell and Henry Walker on the bench as they return to National II North combat at Chester on Saturday.
The 29-year-old loose head prop Purcell is a product of the Leeds Tykes Academy and has been snapped up from Sandal by Lockwood Park head coach Gareth Lewis.
Walker is a 20-year-old hooker from Otley who has represented Yorkshire at age-group level, and he will help fill the void created by the retirement of James Davies – although Ross Thornton moves from the second row to make a first full start at hooker this weekend.
“I’m delighted with the signings because we needed that extra bit of strength in depth,” said Lewis, who led the club to the National III North title last season and is keen to build on the momentum.
“We’d been left particularly light in the hooking department, but I think we’ve now been able to get to something like the squad we wanted to put together at the start of the summer and we are all excited about the start of the season.”
Six-footer Purcell weighs in at 16st 7lb and played for Sandal Juniors and Silcoates School before joining Leeds Tykes, where he made the A team before playing for Leeds Met University first XV.
He is hoping to push for representative honours this season and after his first training session, he said: “I really enjoyed meeting the lads and I’m looking forward to making an impact with them all in National II this season.”
Walker, who has played rugby league with Keighley Cougars, is 5ft 11in and 17st and in addition to county honours in both union and league, he played for the Great Britain Student Pioneers in the 13-man game.
Nick Sharpe again captains Huddersfield – season tickets are available for Lockwood Park, where Field play their first home game against Harrogate on September 13 – and they will have four debutants in the starting line-up at Chester following last weekend’s 34-29 loss to Cleckheaton in the final warm-up friendly.
Charlie Martin from Batley Bulldogs RL starts at inside centre, county men Austin Thompson and Adam Malthouse are in the pack and Sam Walker is on the left wing.
At National II level, there are five subs and coaches can make 10 rolling substitutions, and Lewis is looking forward to utilising the four new arrivals and Tom Bills who complete the replacements at Hare Lane.
The new quartet waiting in the wings are Purcell, Walker, Josh Bird and Richard Brown, who has joined from Wharfedale to play either second row or back row.
“It’s a big challenge, but we are going there to win the game, no doubt,” said Lewis.
“We know Chester’s backs are sharp, they can go from deep and they like to hit the wider channels, so we need to be aware of that, but the most important thing for us after last week is that we play to our systems.
“We have a lot of new faces involved, so we need to be patient with the combinations and give them time to work, but we’ve got a good squad together and we are all looking forward to getting started.”
Huddersfield: Hodgson, Clark, Walker (S), Martin, Mitchell, Hinchliffe, Jeffrey, Battye, Thornton, Sanderson, Thompson, Rhodes, Malthouse, Hoyle, Sharpe. Bench: Purcell, Walker (H), Bird, Brown, Bills.