DIRECTOR of rugby Mark Sowerby is relishing a change of focus next week when he takes his unbeaten side into National Cup action, which brings with it a welcome break from the highly intense pressure of the North I League programme.
Huddersfield have been placed in the EDF Energy National Trophy this season, which comprises 102 clubs from the First, Second and Third Divisions in the National League, along with clubs from the North and South Leagues.
And the Lockwood Park side have been awarded a home tie against Cambridge outfit, Shelford, who play in London I.
Nicknamed the Shelford Peacocks, they won the London II North title the previous season when they also lifted the Eastern Counties Trophy, and are currently mid-table in London I, having won two and lost two of their opening four games.
Like Huddersfield, the Davy Lane club have a coach and director of rugby who is a current member of the First XV, New Zealander Sam Tovo, who (like Sowerby) is a back row forward, while they are skippered by Yorkshire-born half-back Alex Birkby.
Last season Huddersfield reached the second round of the National Intermediate Trophy before they went down heavily at Kendal, where Tom Sharrock, left, scored his maiden try for the first team to go alongside another from Chris Johnson, right, and club supporters will be hoping to see their side progress down the Twickenham path this year, despite having stepped up a level.
“Shelford are very much an unknown quantity” admitted coach Sowerby.
“But obviously we shall be treating them with plenty of respect.
“A cup run is always nice, but obviously our main focus again this year has to be our continued improvement in North I and, hopefully, a shot at promotion.
“I do know a couple of the players, who played with me at Wakefield, particularly their skipper Alex Birkby, who played with me for six or seven years at Wakefield and was also at QEGS when I was there.
“Alex was always a very talented scrum half and a bright kid, but I’m surprised he finished up down in Cambridge, although they are playing in a good division which contain some cracking sides like Richmond, Portsmouth and Hereford.
“They look to have several Kiwis and Aussies in the squad, so I would expect them to be pretty useful.
“We may take the opportunity to rest one or two of the older end, and give a couple of the bench players a chance of a first team run-out, but although our main emphasis has to be on the League, I’ll certainly be sending out a side to try and win the Cup match.”