New forwards coach Andy Barnes insists promotion is definitely on Sheffield Tigers radar, after he was appointed to assist the club’s new head coach Thiu Barnard.
Barnard, a South African and former Durban Collegians and East Province second row, was appointed as Tigers’ new permanent head coach, succeeding Ben Buxton who left the club at the end of the season.
With the rugby season finishing only a couple of weeks ago, Barnard has flown out to South Africa and whilst the Tigers squad will not regroup for pre-season until early July, Barnes admits the players should make the most of their time off as their new coach prepares to gear them up for an instant return to National 2 North.
“Thiu is an exciting young coach, he brings lots of enthusiasm to the role and has a strong focus on fitness. I am not looking forward to pre-season!” Barnes said.
“I’ve been at Tigers for several years now, I know the club and I know the players, so I am hoping to help Thiu settle in quickly and get him up to speed on playing National League rugby.
“I plan to work hard with the forwards to make sure we have a strong set piece and pack of forwards who are ruthless.
“We must be looking to follow the lead of Huddersfield and Stockport and bounce straight back to National 2 North.
“I think with recruitment in key areas and a good pre-season, promotion is definitely on our radar.”
Buxton, who took over Dan Richmond in March, believes that his time at Dore Moor will benefit him in the future: “It’s been good a really good learning curve to understand where players are coming from and helping them to try and get better. I have learnt a lot,” the former Nottingham prop said.
“I went there as a player to start with, but I was tied up with coaching men’s rugby and university rugby for quite some time now.
“The coaching side of thing is something I am going to continue for as long as I can and I haven’t decided if I am going to play next year. I am not sure yet.”
The recruitment process has already begun at Tigers. Any interested players can email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the club answer phone on 0114 236 0075.
Meanwhile, after being appointed as Sheffield RUFC’s new director of rugby, former club captain Jason Soden admits that discussions with first-team head coach Adam Byron have already taken place as they look to take the club to the ‘ next level.’
“I met Adam when I first moved to Sheffield and we get on very well and we have already started working together,” Soden said.
“In the last couple of months we have started putting plans together for next year and I am really pleased he is staying with us.
“He got the players playing for him last season, which is great, and I am looking forward to working with him. He has obviously got good ideas how we can develop things within the club.
“For us it is about building on the season we have just had; it was difficult for a number of reasons, but I am excited about next year.
“Hopefully we can build on the end of the season form and push on. Promotion is the aim, whether that is next year or the year after.”