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New-look coaching team for York Lokomotive
YORK Lokomotive ARLC head into new territory this weekend when they kick off their new-look Yorkshire Men’s League campaign – with a new coaching team at the helm too.
Former York Wasps star Paul McDermott, who has been in charge since the Lokos’ inaugural 2008 season, has taken a backward step this year due to family commitments, with the club appointing a youthful coaching trio of brothers Luke and Liam Watling, the one-time York City Knights hopefuls, and ex-York Acorn player Matt Chapman, who had a spell in Hunslet’s academy.
They face probably the club’s toughest season to date, too, with a host of established rugby league outfits making the switch to the summer season. The Lokos have previously competed with development and rugby league expansion teams but now will come up against elite amateur clubs, albeit their second strings.
They start away to Hull Dockers ‘A’ on Saturday, in group three of the league. Dockers’ first team, of the amateur game’s flagship National Conference League, recently met the Knights in a Challenge Cup tie.
Liam Watling also reckoned they won’t necessarily face the Dockers’ reserves. “All these clubs in our league aren’t called ‘A’ teams at the moment – they’re all squads. They’re all established rugby league clubs so it will be tough.
“We’re looking to build really. Summer rugby (at amateur level) has not been as big a contest as it will be this year with the National Conference clubs involved. Teams will be more competitive, fitter and more physical.
“Our goals are to keep it simple. We want to make home games as hard as possible for the opposition, complete sets, try not to make mistakes and, if we do, rectify them and try not to get on top of each other.”
The Lokos remain a development club in the main, though, with a number of rugby union players getting involved in the 13-a-side code.
They will have no Heworth or Acorn players to bolster their squad either, with those clubs also now in summer rugby, but one-time Knights reserves full-back Tom Dunmore will be a key addition on his return from two years in the Middle East.
Former York Groves player-coach Simon Moat – the Lokos were formed from a link-up between Groves and the York RI sporting body – is also coming out of retirement. He showed good form in the Lokos’ first match of the year, the 36-0 loss to Pennine League club Selby Warriors in the York and District Cup semi-final.
As the other end of the age range, Watling at 24 is one of the youngest coaches in the game – yet still three years Luke’s senior – but he said: “I’d like to think we’ve got experience in the game.
“Paul (McDermott) has taken a backward step but he will still be advising. It makes for a good mix, with his experience and our youthful enthusiasm.”
Watling took heart from that York cup game, albeit in defeat. “We had a big battle. Selby have been playing all winter and are pretty established. We showed lots of determination and effort, and that’s something nobody can coach.”
Watling the younger is also player-coach with his St Mary’s University side in London, while also playing for Hemel Stags, a team set to join the new-look Championship One next in 2013, and coaching a local under-14s side. Those other commitments mean he will only be a bit-part coach on odd weekends.
Watling the elder, a BARLA Great Britain Under-18s international while with Heworth, did some schools coaching for the Knights’ community team as a teenager but this is his first real coaching position.
Both he and Chapman have taken up the roles after knee ligament injuries meant they could not play this year.
Watling, restricted by injuries to two games of rugby union since last April, expects to be on the sidelines for at least another 12 months.
He added: “I’m enjoying the coaching. If I don’t play again, this is something I want to do. I’ve been in rugby league since I was six and I couldn’t let it go.”
Elsewhere, Acorn ‘A’, who began with a 28-16 win over Dockers last week, go to East Hull.
Heworth ‘A’ are scheduled to host North Yorkshire Stallions but the Northallerton outfit were struggling for numbers so the game was set to be postponed.
Neither Acorn nor Heworth’s first teams had games in the National Conference League.
Meanwhile, Selby Warriors ‘A’ end their promotion season in Pennine League division seven away to Farnley Falcons ‘A’.