HAVING secured two promotions on the bounce, following in the footsteps of James Delaney as Dewsbury Moor head coach will be no easy task.
If anyone is capable of doing it though, it is Danny Maun, who returned to his old side as a player last season to help them over the finish line and seal a place in NCL Division One.
With Delaney stepping aside, it is now Maun’s opportunity to both test himself as a coach in his own right, and continue the legacy of success on the field alongside the progression of young players at a club well known for producing top talent.
After a number of years as an assistant coach at Batley Bulldogs, he is now going it alone by taking on the top job with the Maroons, but he is typically modest about what he wants to achieve.
At the amateur club that brought the Burgess brothers into the rugby league world, Maun insists that his priority is to “develop the players” in his side.
“I’m big on the young players coming through and getting a shot in the professional game, so if I can develop one or two players to make that step up, I’ll be happy with that,” he said.
“There’s talent in the local area and I think a lot of clubs overlook that. Look at Toby Richardson and Archie Bruce for example, who both played on Boxing Day (in the derby), and I think that’s what coaches in this area should be aiming for, getting some of their players into the professional game.”
Both are products of Moor’s focus on the development of talent in the last few years, with Richardson earning a contract at Dewsbury Rams after impressing towards the end of the 2018 season, and Bruce currently on trial with Batley Bulldogs and making his debut in the festive fixture last week.
Having seen him first-hand, Maun says that Bruce can go as far as he wants to go in the game “if he applies himself as I know he has done” while training with the club.
“Everyone’s really happy with him up there. I just think Archie’s got to carry on doing what he’s doing. He’ll make a few mistakes along the way but he’ll make some good strides and I think he could be a really good addition to Batley if they decide to make him an offer, which I hope they do.”
Bruce could return to play for the Maroons over the course of the season, but Maun says: “I hope he doesn’t come back, because I want him to sign for Batley!”
He added: “Toby’s signed at Dewsbury now so he’s got a chance to develop, and I hope Archie does the same at Batley. And it’s a credit to Dewsbury Moor as well, James Delaney has done a great job over the last two years, and it’s good to see Moor developing players and getting them out there again.”
Maun believes that there are a number of other players in his Dewsbury Moor squad that are capable of making the step up to a semi-professional level, but that work commitments often stand in the way.
“George Croisdale could play in the Championship, but his work restricts him from playing,” he said. “James Samme, if he gets himself a bit fitter, could easily make the step up.
“There are a lot of young kids; Sammy Thornton is a great talent, Aiden Ineson and Tom Kaye at half-back, they’ve got the potential to step up, but they might have to change a few things from outside the game if they want to do that. They’re all talented players.”
What could be another club’s loss is certainly Moor’s gain, and they enter the Division One campaign with a strong squad looking to test themselves further this season in the second tier of amateur rugby league.
Maun says that the division will be a “whole new challenge” for the team though, and isn’t setting his targets too high.
“We’re going to be playing some good teams and we just need to look after ourselves, and hopefully we can pick off some teams and get up that table.”
However, he admits that performances such as the one that saw them push Thornhill Trojans, who won the Division One title in 2018, all the way in last year’s Heavy Woollen Cup final, suggest that they will be well-equipped for that challenge.
“We played some good teams at the back end of last year, and played Thornhill in the final and we applied ourselves well.
“We’ve got a young side (and) you can’t beat enthusiasm. You can have the best structures in the world but at the end of the day sometimes you’ll win a match because of sheer enthusiasm, and I think the lads have got it and you can see it in pre-season.
“We’re going to play some experienced teams so we’ve got to get wise straight away. We’ve got to start off well and win the home games, and we’ll try to pick off a few away games as well.”
Their squad could be boosted further before the campaign gets underway, with Maun revealing a number of players who he is hoping will join the team.
Braden Hunter is looking to return to the club along with another ex-Hemel Stags player in Wayne Jowett, who will join after an operation, and ex-Thornhill man Scott Lee has been in touch with the new coach as well.
Before the NCL season starts with a home clash against fellow promoted side Stanningley on March 2, Moor will face Bradford Dudley Hill in a friendly as well as returning to the Challenge Cup.
They will come up against Skirlaugh in the first round of the competition on January 26, providing a good early test against another Division One side.
“It is the first time Moor have been in the Challenge Cup for a few years, so it’ll be exciting for us as a club,” he said.
“It would be nice to play a professional team (later in the competition). I just think the experience of the Challenge Cup for the younger lads will be good, and set them all up for the season because Skirlaugh are a good team and we’ve got to go and have a crack at them and see what we can do.
“It’ll be a massive benchmark for ourselves and I don’t see why we can’t go out there and turn them over. I expect to win every game and it’ll be no different against Skirlaugh in the Cup, and it’ll be exciting.”
With a talented squad rising through the leagues and an enthusiastic coach now taking up the reins, these are exciting times indeed.