TIM RUMFORD fancies Heworth ARLC's chances for the future as the youngsters have revitalised the struggling club - and he hasn't given up hope of promotion success this year either, writes Steven Back.
Arriving 21 months ago and inheriting an ageing squad, Rumford has since enlisted the the aid of the club's youth coaches to blood the youngsters into the senior game, and after years spent in the doldrums in the bottom tier of the National Conference League, he believes his young and developing squad will turn Heworth's fortunes around in the near future.
"It's a case of taking small steps, so hopefully we are not too far away from taking some big steps," he said.
"We have given them an opportunity and the kids we have got at Heworth have just grabbed it with both hands and we have now got the makings of a really good development pathway at Heworth again.
"The amount of 17 and 18-year-olds we've got playing open age is testament to that."
With such a young nucleus of players, Rumford has closely monitored his talent ensuring they can get through the season.
"If we can see the kids are a little bit jaded or have been playing a lot of rugby then its a case of looking after them," he said.
"Speaking to parents, especially when we've got so many 17 and 18-year-olds, we need to be careful and think about the future.
"Hopefully in the next few years we are going to see the benefits of it."
Heworth's season is not done yet as they still have a chance to qualify for the play-offs. The top two in division three go up and the next four play-off for a third promotion place. Heworth lie eighth and can close the gap to sixth-placed Hindley to one point by beating them at Elmpark Way on Saturday (2.30pm).
After a dominant display and 50-6 victory over Peterlee Pumas last weekend, Rumford is confident they can continue winning form.
"We controlled the game for large periods and we looked really good in attack but what was really pleasing was our defence as well," he said. "If we replicate our defensive effort and polish our attack at home, we are confident we can come away with something."
York Acorn have used a similar policy throughout their summer in division one and coach Scott Rhodes hopes his youngsters will help build a vital core going forward, continuing with Saturday's trip to Normanton Knights.
"Promotion comes when it comes, what I am trying to do is trying to build for the future," he said, Acorn stuck in mid-table after relegation from the elite tier last year.
"We know we have a few players coming to the end of their careers. Again what we are trying to do is build a good solid squad for the next four, five maybe six years. We are a really young side and that's what I've been planning over the last couple of seasons."
A 30-22 defeat at home to leaders Oulton on Saturday shows they are not far away, as they bounced back from a 36-0 drubbing by the same opponent the week before.
Rhodes beamed about the enthusiasm of his young squad.
"The players are doing overtime and they're still young. All they want to do is play rugby. If i asked them to play four times a week they would. They're a great bunch of lads."