FYLDE RFC have recruited two forwards on loan from Leeds Carnegie to ease their injury crisis ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Tynedale.
However, coach Mark Nelson believes more problems for clubs lie ahead unless National One is restructured, claiming “we have almost created a monster”.
Leeds packmen Ben Harris and Harry Hannan were due to train with their new team-mates for the first time last night and take up places on the replacements’ bench tomorrow.
Harris is a 23-year-old loose head prop, who stands 6’4” and weights in at 19½st. He played against Fylde while at Huddersfield four seasons ago and has represented Yorkshire and England Counties.
He was a regular in Rotherham’s Championship team in 2010/11 but had fewer opportunities last season and switched to Leeds in the summer.
Hannan, 21, will help Fylde plug the gap at hooker until Alex Loney is available again after Christmas.
A product of Leeds Academy, he played in the Premiership for the club and has wider National League experience on loan at Otley and Harrogate. He also represented England U19 Academy.
Nelson has managed to arrange the deals through his friendship with Leeds forwards coach Dave Baldwin, who was previously with Fylde and Preston Grasshoppers.
The new arrivals could hardly be more timely. Fylde captain Evan Stewart is missing after suffering a shoulder injury in last weekend’s win over Macclesfield, while lock Paul Arnold has finally succumbed after playing through the pain barrier with hip and Achilles problems in recent weeks.
Fellow forwards Sam Beaumont (hip) and Rob Taylor (shoulder) are both a week from fitness, while centre Steve Briers (rib) faces a further fortnight on the sidelines.
Fylde also have Tom Lavelle, Loney and Steve McGinnis unavailable, and have drafted Josh Beaumont’s Durham University team-mate Harrison Collins in at no.8, having retained his registration.
While hailing a loan system which has eased his burdens this week, Nelson says the league has far deeper problems to address.
He explained: “It just shows that coaching isn’t just about what you do in training. It’s about getting a team together and using your contacts. A good contacts book is vital because people aren’t really aware how much of my time is spent trying to arrange things like this.
“The loan system enables you to bring Premiership and Championship players in at no extra cost but this league has to change.
“I think we have almost created a monster because teams must invest heavily to survive.
“Three clubs get relegated and, with the exception of a few clubs, the level below is much weaker. Relegation can be a catastrophe.”
A member of the review panel, Nelson will campaign for only the bottom club to be relegated automatically, with the second-bottom perhaps involved in a play-off, though he accepts reform will not happen quickly.
His immediate goal is to continue sixth-placed Fylde’s good record against Tynedale, having done the double over them last season.
Tynedale have slipped to 13th after a six-match losing run but Nelson warned: “Tynedale have lost their last three at home and so will go at us with all guns blazing. ‘‘
Winger Ben Rath does not feature for Fylde despite piling up the plaudits for his try-scoring debut against Macc, but Nelson is at pains to stress the newcomer has not been dropped.
Nelson explained: “It was always the plan to start Ben last week and Scott Barrow this week. We’re just sticking with the strategy.”
Fylde: Viney, Spragg, C Briers, Barrow, Brennand, Johnson, Wallwork; Wild, Roddam, Birchall, J Beaumont, Banks, Vernon, Maher, Collins; replacements: Hannan, Harris, Burtonwood, De La Harpe, Richard Kenyon
n UNTIL Fylde’s injury problems ease, prop Peter Altham’s loan move to National Two club Caldy has been placed on hold.