New Halifax Vandals player-coach Matt Farrar begins his reign at Warley tomorrow with the toughest of Yorkshire Four assignments, a derby date with Halifax.
Twenty-eight-year-old Farrar, who will start at scrum half, takes over from the former Saracens professional Chris Davis, who stepped aside in the summer for family reasons.
Vandals dropped from Yorkshire Three in the spring after several seasons of toil, and Farrar, in his 10th season with the club, is hoping for better times ahead.
“I’m probably hoping for a more forgiving league,” said Farrar, a former Siddal junior rugby league player from the same star-studded under 16s side that produced current professionals Luke Robinson, Scott Grix and Liam Finn.
“I think there will be less difference between the teams at the top of the table and those at the bottom, so if we can be in mid-table, pushing those top three or four sides when we meet them, I’ll be happy.
“I might have wished for an easier first game in charge, but you can’t beat the intensity of a local derby, can you?”
Halifax coach Mark Walton has announced his squad for tomorrow’s game, with Russ Baxter, Karl Copeland and Marc Wells rewarded for their commitment during pre-season with places in the squad.
Tony Curtis will skipper the side, with Walton himself likely to start at number nine.
Curtis said: “We have had a good pre-season. We’ve tested ourselves against higher-ranked opposition and are now looking forward to the proper action to begin.”
New Rishworthians coach Damian Ball goes to Hessle in Yorkshire Three, with high hopes for a new-look side.
Ball, the former rugby league professional, has been boosted by the return of several Rishworthians juniors, notably 21 year old flanker Chris Dyson - who played for Leeds Carnegie at junior level - and fly half Luke Flanagan.
“They’ll lower the average age quite a bit, and I think Dyson will rip it up in this league if we can keep him fit,” said Ball.
“He’s had some shoulder problems in the past, but he’s a player I rate highly.
“Pre season has gone well, the lads have responded to my ideas and we’re looking forward to playing now.”