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Jack Stearman cannot wait to get going as New Earswick All Blacks target top four
JACK STEARMAN says he cannot wait to get going as he eyes promotion possibilities with New Earswick All Blacks ARLC.
York City Knights community chief and former player Stearman took over the reins at White Rose Avenue in the off-season, and they kick off their Pennine League championship campaign on Saturday away to Upton (2.30pm).
They have quite a new-look squad with players returning to the camp and youngters coming up from the junior ranks, and Stearman, from what he has seen so far, believes the squad is good enough to be challenging in the upper echelons of the division, with the top two going up to the premier division.
“We’ve set our aim for top four,” said the 25-year-old player-coach, who returned to All Blacks after a stint earlier this year with Championship One club Gateshead Thunder. “We don’t want to over-aim because you could end up looking silly but top four I think is realistic.
“It’s tough to judge other teams at this stage or who will be near the top. It changes year on year. I’ve not played at this level for a couple of years so can’t talk with authority about other teams. But Upton have come from the Yorkshire League so might be an unknown quantity for a few, and Nevison Leap look pretty good, as do Methley Royals.”
Methley began their campaign by walloping Dewsbury Moor 100-2 last week, before play was ended after only 62 minutes – although Moor had turned up with only nine men and ended with eight due to injury.
Such a player crisis is hopefully to be a one-off for that club, and Stearman says turning out a full, competitive team each week is one of his aims at All Blacks after their recent struggles, travelling at times without a full bench as they tried to fulfil ‘A’ team as well as first-team fixtures.
They have since folded their ‘A’ team, while a new “buzz about the place” should also help.
Said Stearman: “It’s about having a full 17 or 18 available each week, and a competitive 17 or 18 as well. The main aim is to build a successful environment and getting people playing and enjoying it.”
The chances of success should be boosted by the fact Joe Hemmings and Carl Barrow, the packmen who have previously played for the Knights, are on board again, as is former Knights and Gateshead hooker Tom Hodgson, who is player/assistant-coach albeit on an ad hoc basis given he still lives in the North East.
The likes of Darren Gargan, brother of player/assistant-coach Liam, and Steve Clarke are also back after several years out of the game.
Several of these players are unavailable this weekend, however – starting as the club do not mean to go on – but this will give youngsters like Pete Ritchie and Luke Morton the chance to show their worth in their opening fixture.
Stearman said: “We’re optimistic people like Joe Hemmings will be available more often that not, which will be a big boost, and Tom will play when he can. It’s not a great start with a few out this weekend, but we have other good players and we’re really looking forward to it.
“It’s a long, hard year but I can’t wait for it to start. People are buying into what we’re tying to do and there’s a buzz about the place again. Hopefully we can turn all that into results.”
Selby Warriors endured a difficult start to their division one campaign, losing 46-6 at home to Allerton Bywater, and will want to do better at Doncaster Toll Bar this Saturday.
There are no games in the National Conference League for York Acorn, who take a breather from their premier division relegation scrap, or Heworth, who have one fixture left in division three.
• Yorkshire Men’s League outfit York Lokomotive will hold their end-of-season presentation night tomorrow at their York RI base in New Lane. Six awards will be up for grabs on the night, which begins at 7pm. All players, sponsors, family and supporters are welcome. Admission is free.
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