Kendal Director of Rugby Steve Whitehead aims for Hornets sting in season curtain-raiser (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Kendal Director of Rugby Steve Whitehead aims for Hornets sting in season curtain-raiser
A FOCUSSED Steve Whitehead has backed his Kendal Hornets side to rid one particular monkey from their back as they head to Merseyside to face Wirral in the season’s curtain-raiser.
After a glittering 14-year playing career at Mint Bridge, the 43-year-old will take charge of his first senior match after his appointment as Director of Rugby during the close season.
Kendal have not recorded victory on the road for more than two years and Whitehead believes Saturday will provide him with the ultimate indication of his squad’s abilities.
“With the club not having won away for such a long time, our opening fixture at Wirral is going to be a test,” he said.
“It is essentially the same squad as last year so there is a lot to turn around and a win would be a huge confidence boost.
“When you play away from home, those matches are all about the character of the team and the tightness of the group.
“We’re chasing an away win first game up, so we’ll judge where we are and the exact make-up of the side in terms of character after this game.”
After taking the reins from Ian Thompson earlier this year, Whitehead immediately instigated a number of changes following relegation from National League Three North last season.
This included calling the players back early for pre-season training, with their warm-up games bringing a mixed bag of results.
Kendal beat Aspatria but recorded losses against Rossendale and Hawcoat Park, with Whitehead refusing to read too much into results in these matches.
“It’s been a long and hard preparation and we have had good and bad results in the friendlies but the purpose of them is to try out different personnel and systems,” he added.
“We fronted up quite well against Rossendale, got things exactly right against Aspatria and while Sunday wasn’t ideal preparation, Saturday is when it counts.
“We’ve been able to build up a picture as to where we are as a team and what the strengths of the group are.”
Whitehead enjoyed some heady days at Mint Bridge during his playing career and is keen to rekindle those and bring the good times back.
The first step on this journey will be taken on Saturday as the League North One West campaign begins in earnest, with Whitehead looking forward to the season ahead.
“Practising and pre-season is one thing but you don’t really hone your attentions fully until it really matters,” he said.
“We worked hard in training on Tuesday and there is further work to do tonight in order to galvanise our strengths ahead of the weekend.
“We feel we are ready for the test which Saturday will bring and I’m looking forward to it and the year ahead.
“As a team we need to roll our sleeves up and work. We have got ourselves into this league so it is up to us to work our way out of it.
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