Rugby league: Mayfield preview

Date published: 06 March 2020

Both Mayfield teams are back in action this weekend (Saturday 7 March) at the Mayfield Sports Centre for the start of the new rugby league season.

The National Conference League (NCL) side welcome Cumbrian side Egremont Rangers for their opening NCL Premier Division clash.

In a repeat of last season, there are many changes to the squad as more of the side that managed to avoid relegation have now signed at Hornets. The Sheridan brothers, Liam Whalley, Jimmy Connaughton and Luke Fowden have all taken up the challenge to make the step up and play their rugby at a higher level.

As well as the lads that have signed for Hornets Zac Hartley and Zac Baker have packed their boots and made the trip down under to try their hand at rugby league Australian style with the Mullumbimby Giants.

Also missing this season will be Wayne English who has decided to call it a day after being a great servant to Mayfield and rugby league in general.

All these changes have caused massive disruption in the playing squad but in true Mayfield style they have rallied against the odds to rebuild a team that looks like it could be in for a good season, aiming for at least a top half of the table finish.

There is a genuine buzz about the club at the minute with new signings in the shape of Adam Vrahnos, an Australian with Greek international experience and Liam Donnelly from the Currumbin Eagles club. These are two quality signings for the club after a lot of hard work from chairman Simon Howe who is delighted to welcome them on board for the 2020 campaign.

Another boost for the club is the return of Aidan Gleeson after a season at Hornets which can only have done him good and will in turn benefit the team and the players around him. Sean Mulcahy also returns after doing much of the pre season at Hornets and he looks fitter than he's ever been and is raring to get started.

Chris Hough has also returned to the Mayfield to lend his experience and guile to the attack and it will be interesting to see how he interacts with the younger members of the team.

Coaches Sam Butterworth and Steve Wood are looking forward to the opening game and the chance to see how their new look side measures up against the well established Cumbrians.

Sam said: "Egremont are a good side having been in the premier division for many years now. They finished mid table last season and are looking to improve on that this time around.

"We had two good games with them last year with the honours even and I will be quite happy to see us take the points off them this weekend.

"We have a couple of injury worries before this game with Simon Moore and Adam Vrahnos struggling with hamstring problems and Cole Connolly suffering a knee injury at training this week so we will have to wait til we see how they come through the pre match run through on Friday before naming the side.

"This will be an exciting season, I'm sure of that, with the new and returning lads moulding in with the established players like Rob Kershaw, Mark Biggins and Nick Hargreaves.

"I know a lot of people in rugby circles have written us off already after again losing so many quality players, but not me. I am looking forward to the challenge and know we have the players to be pushing for a play off spot come the end of the season. We can only take it one game at a time and that's how we are training. We will be looking for a victory this weekend although we know that's going to be tough but Steve, myself and the whole playing squad are ready to go."

Someone else looking forward to the season is Mayfield chairman Simon Howe. Simon said: "I have a good feeling about this season.

"Its no secret that we have struggled for the past couple of seasons with a complete team moving on, and I have to say in all sincerity, I personally and the club as a whole wish each and every one of the lads that have gone on the very best. Every player should want to test himself at the highest possible level and that is what they are doing.

"I also believe that cometh the hour cometh the man and the last two seasons have shown that at Mayfield, with the youngsters who have stepped in. Players like Lewis Butterworth, Shaun Hurley, Cole Connolly, Harry Macdonald and Jack McConnachie have gone above and beyond. At the other end of the age range Rob Kershaw, John Foy and Mark Biggins have stepped into the breach and continue to give their all. The youngsters will only get better year on year and we hope to start reaping the benefits of that this season."

Mayfield's A team are due to welcome Langworthy Reds to Mayfield on Saturday afternoon as they begin their assault on Division 2 of the North West Men's League (NWML).

Coaches Andy Reed and Craig White hope to have a good start after the debacle of last year when Mayfield were unable to field a side. This year will be different says Andy: "We have worked hard and recruited the last years U16s as the nucleus of the team. with most lads still only being 16 we know it will be tough but we have absolute faith in them. Game by game this team will get better and it wont be long before we are a team to be reckoned with."

Fixtures 7 March 2020

NCL Premier Division: Mayfield v Egremont KO 2.30pm

NWML Division 2: Mayfield v Langworthy KO 2.30pm

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