Journalism student Daniel Rourke recently conducted an interview with Coach Gareth Lewis. Here is the interview in full:

Between relegation and somewhat of an injury crisis, it’s been a testing week for Huddersfield Rugby Union, but things aren’t all doom and gloom.

Despite the disappointing end to the season, Coach Gareth Lewis sees a promising future on the horizon. We sat down with Lewis, to talk where things went wrong, and why things are about to change.

Daniel Rourke: It’s been a difficult season for the club, obviously we were relegated at the weekend, what are your thoughts on the relegation?

Gather Lewis: Yeah, obviously I’m massively disappointed at the way the season has gone, we were really optimistic about progressing from finishing ninth last season. For a number of reasons, it’s not really happened this year so, yeah, gutted really, the writing had been on the wall for a couple of weeks. We thought we turned a corner when we beat Broadstreet away at Christmas, but we failed to kick on, and defeats against Preston, Tynedale, Sale and teams of that nature were all narrow defeats and made it a real bitter pill to swallow really.

DR: In terms of the teams’ performances, they’ve not really been that of a team who have been relegated. There’s been the odd mistakes, but the team seemed to step up their game when they played the bigger sides in the league.

GL: That’s what I eluded to in terms of the disappointment. In previous years you’ve seen sides – including ourselves, a couple of years ago – cut adrift at the bottom and being beaten heavily week after week. The defeats that we’ve had, have been between ten and one point every week, and that’s the disappointing thing. We have performed well against the better clubs. Macclesfield, Sedgley Park, we’ve ran them really close and given them tough games. What we need to change, in terms of mind-set, is we can’t just get ourselves up for the games where we’re underdogs and no one gives us a chance. We’ve got to be putting sides to bed, especially the ones that are close to us, and get that winning mentality.

DR: There’s still several games left of the season, are those games now about working out how the team will play next season?

GL: We’ve been rebuilding now for the last three or four weeks, both on and off the field. It’s given us an opportunity to experiment a little bit, and to reflect, although that has kind of hindered us with injuries. The lads who have stepped up from the second team have really put in good performances, there’s probably three or four lads on Saturday that really put their hat in the ring for next season. It’s given us opportunities on the field, and off the field we’ve been in talks with the entire squad about signing up the players for next season and retaining the bulk of the squad, because I firmly believe there’s an awful lot of potential in the squad and the age of the squad gives us a lot of cause for optimism. There’s three games to go, it’s going to be tough, but we’ve got to get through this and give it everything we can when we regroup over the summer.

DR: You mentioned the injuries, training was effected tonight due to injuries. What’s the situation there?

GL: It was partly due to injuries, I’ll be honest. We did pick up a few on Saturday: Dan Jeffery came off with a knee injury despite putting in his best performance of the season, although I think he’ll be okay for Saturday. Nick Rhodes twisted his knee, but the reports back last night were that he’s okay. Austin Thompson damaged his intercostal muscle, and he’ll be okay to train on Thursday. There’s a question mark over Ben Hoyle, he rolled his ankle, and we don’t know if it’s ligaments, but he’s seeing the physio today. Tom Baxter is carrying a knock as well, Adam Malthouse is out with an ankle injury. Adam Tamanis should be back this weekend after a neck injury. We are stretched, but like I said, on Saturday I looked around the dressing room and it showed we do have good strength in depth in our squad. There’s a few injuries, but the fifteen lads who will be selected for the game on Saturday will be more than capable of going there and getting a victory.

DR: In terms of last Saturday’s game, there was a few players missing due to call-ups from the counties, does that there is quality at the core of the squad, and next season they should push for promotion?

GL: It does, yeah. The lads selected were Lewis Workman, Lewis Bradley, and Chris Bell, who was vice-captain. They’re quality players, and the future is looking bright for the club, and there’s probably four, five, six more lads who are in and around that early twenties age bracket. There’s huge cause for optimism, I think the average age of the squad is twenty-four, and in some respects that’s been our downfall this year. Some of our decision making on the field has reflected our immaturity a little bit, but we’ll come out stronger, I’m convinced. There’s some good young lads, and they’re the sort of lads I want to build the squad around.

Written by Daniel Rourke

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