Cleckheaton skipper backs coach appointment

CLECKHEATON skipper Richard Piper has expressed his delight following the appointment of Ian Armitage as head coach, claiming the former Old Brodleians boss is the man to deliver promotion next term.

Armitage, who arrived to assist outgoing chief Dave Harrison last year, was handed Moorend’s top job after “much consideration” by the club’s committee.

And Piper has backed the North One East outfit’s decision to promote from within.

“It is fantastic appointment, the club have definitely done the right thing,” Piper told The Press.

“Ian had already been working alongside Harry (Dave Harrison), the players know him well and he has our respect. He was behind a lot of last season’s success – the third-placed finish.

“Fitness is vital in Ian’s coaching. He brought that here at the start of last year and it paid dividends towards the end. We had more than just a big and strong pack of forwards.

“Ian works closely with the players, he acts as a quiet, calming figure in the dressing room. He does a lot of one-on-one coaching and is big on tactics.

“I am extremely confident he can get us out of this division and we have the players to help do it, that is for sure.

“There are not masses for him to do with us, though, it is all about what we do during the 80 minutes.

“We turned a few heads last season by convincingly beating Morley and Beverley, who have gone up as champions.

“We just need to make a better start and I am sure Ian will get us working towards that.”

Armitage is currently piecing together his backroom staff ahead of pre-season training, which is due to start during the third week of June.

Though his first real challenge will be to find replacements for outgoing talents Iain Gordon and Steve Worsley.

“Iain has been fantastic for us at fly-half and has basically scored 300 points every season he has played here,” said Piper, who bagged a record 29 tries last term.

“He has moved down to London for work reasons and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a massive blow. There is also a big hole to fill at hooker with Steve leaving, but I know Ian is already working on it.”

The first-team squad are to meet with Armitage on Monday to preview the 2013-14 campaign, which gets underway in September.

It is understood the ex-Yorkshire coach is considering a local sevens tournament to kick-start pre-season preparations next month.

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