NEW WATERHEAD coach Mick Whaley has set a survival target for his team to avoid relegation from National Conference League, Division One.
Whaley, who succeeded Andy Sands who quit at the end of June, believes two, possibly three, wins from their last seven games will be enough to beat the drop.
And with five of those fixtures at Peach Road, Whaley acknowledges that home form could well determine their fate.
Whaley, who was Sands’ No 2, described the job as a “challenge” but one he is relishing as he is assisted by John Perks and Ian Ogden. All three are Waterhead through and through.
Waterhead remain lower mid-table and four points clear of the relegation places despite losing six of their last seven league games.
Sands quit because of his frustration at a continual battle to field a team due to holidays and work commitments as well as unwelcome suspensions.
Whaley said: “Most of the players have finished their holidays and a couple of players are back after suspensions while a number of others have returned to the club.
“We have had a difficult patch, but I believe the worst is over and better times are ahead.
“The players have rallied and been training well. Luckily we have had a free fortnight to build up to the important home game against Mayfield on August 3.
“Once we are up to speed I am sure we will get the wins we need to stay in the division and then we can regroup for next season.”
Waterhead have a difficult run-in as they have to play most of the division’s big hitters. In August they play Mayfield, Oulton Raiders and East Leeds who are all in the top six.
Sands claims the introduction of summer rugby has “ruined” the amateur game.
He said: “Summer rugby has been a nightmare and I think it has ruined the game.
“If it is nice weather – as we have had recently – they want to spend it with their families and not have to travel to Cumbria.
“Every coach I spoke to had experienced the same problem. They were all struggling to raise teams.”
SADDLEWORTH RANGERS coach Shane Tupaea has urged his players to keep focused on the job in hand after picking up his first win since taking over a month ago.
His tenure began with losses to Milford Marlins, Eccles and Wigan St Judes before the team defeated Hunslet Warriors 23-16 to clinch their first two points under their new leader.
While pleased with the result, ex Oldham professional and former Rochdale Hornets coach Tupaea insisted there is still work to be done to get Rangers out of the Division One relegation zone.
He said: “The players have really responded to the changes we have made in training and how we want to play. The team spirit is there now and hopefully they will go on from here.
“The result is a good foundation but let’s not get above our station. I think we made it harder work for ourselves than we should have done and there were quite a few unforced errors.”
Tupaea revealed he has introduced additional training sessions for the team and is encouraging them to enjoy their rugby – but has put a swearing ban in place.
“It just builds the frustration and we don’t want any of that,” he said. “And we’re a family club with youngsters at the games. They should look up to these players as their idols and learning from them.”