A new season kicks off for Loughborough Students Rugby League next week, with head coach Martyn Rothwell believing ‘a quality team culture’ will be a core feature behind the team’s fight for success this year.
The club starts pre-season on September 12 with a four day camp, culminating in a match against a touring Italian national side. The news of Loughborough’s encounter with an Italy team, containing National Rugby League stars, was recently released as part of Italy’s warm up for their 2013 World Cup qualification campaign. This means a hard pre-season is to be expected for the Loughborough side, up to the start of term, especially with the exit of some established first team players.
Despite this, Loughborough Student Rugby League’s (LSRL) head coach Martyn Rothwell remains positive and believes it is the attitude of the players which can lead them to success this year:
“The usual effort and behaviours are expected from the squad, if we get that right the results will take care of themselves.”
When identifying the mistakes of last year and the teams aims for the season, he added:
“We need to recruit and retain players and to develop a quality team culture. The latter is something I got wrong last season.”
In addition to a big recruitment push throughout the university, a lot of hard work has been put in, off the field, to bring in new talent. Former Super League academy player, Chris Barratt, has been added to the squad as well as Sheffield Eagle’s Jack Powely to help give the club more options.
However, there is still strength throughout the current squad with Martyn Rothwell hinting at two potential stars to watch out for this year:
“Will Collins and Billy Foster-Hale will be exciting (to watch) this season. Two players with huge potential, I’m looking forward to working with them and seeing how good they can be.”
The biggest task confronting LSRL this year, as it has for several years, will be Leeds Met, the only team to stand in the clubs way from having a full trophy cabinet. The team suffered heartbreaking when they were beaten in the last play of the Super 8 final against Leeds Met and were seen off, yet again, in the BUCS Championship Final.
The club found themselves under the spotlight towards the end of last year, making their TV debut on Sky’s Premier Sport, where they comfortably beat Gloucestershire University 58-6. The extra coverage helped raise the profile of the sport on campus, however when asked what is most important, the TV covered Super 8 league or the BUCS championship Martyn Rothwell replied:
“It’s not really something that we think about, our biggest challenge as a club is to recruit and retain the right players. The club has struggled to recruit players over the past couple of seasons, even with the fantastic opportunities that are available to LSRL players; we’ve had several players gain international honours.”
The focus for the club this year seems to be on recruiting new blood and improving on the club atmosphere and culture. However, despite internal changes, the club still seems on the way up, with new talent, creating an exciting and mouth watering season to come.