HUDDERSFIELD YMCA launch their new season in Yorkshire I tomorrow with the visit of Scarborough (3.00) when the Laund Hill side unveil a new back line and a new skipper.
James Bracken has been handed the responsibility of first-team captain having made a very successful conversion from rugby league.
He’s now an important and influential member of the YM side, adding much-needed go-forward on attack, while being solidly dependable on defence, and he will again form the basis of YMCA’s three-pronged back row, alongside Steve Anderson and Neil Walker.
Indeed, the pack has a familiar look, with Adam Joblin (one of three Kiwi imports) the only new face at hooker, flanked by Brad Dobson and Paul Gregson.
“We lost our Swiss hooker David Guegue, Kiwi Mava Iosefa and Australian second row Luke Hannan at the end of last season,” explained coach Carl Thewlis.
“And with prop Darrell McSwiney having retired and winger Chris Cowling joining the police, which will certainly see him miss at least the first half of the season, we needed to recruit one or two players, although we shall be looking very much towards our own Academy players to step up this season.”
It will be two of the club’s young players who start in the second row, Ross Housley partnering Damian Pearson, both having cut their teeth in the first XV last season.
But it’s in the backs where the main changes appear, with the second of the new Kiwis, Chris Belton, coming straight in at full-back, while David Rees – last season’s top try-scorer in Yorkshire I with 14 – finds himself on the wing, opposite Dave Holmes.
The starting centres are likely to be James Travis and Matt Franks, with Ben Wolfe at scrum half and Graeme Sarjeant resuming at stand-off.
Included in the first-team squad, are Stuart Morton, Craig Coulson, Simon Whitehead, the third Kiwi Paul Williams, former Sale and Cleckheaton prop Andy Jordan and Simon Wilson.
YMCA: (from) Belton; Rees, Franks, Travis, Holmes; Wolfe, Sarjeant; Dobson, Joblin, Gregson, Housley, Pearson, Bracken, Anderson, Walker, Jordan, Morton, Williams, Coulson, Whitehead, Wilson.