Newsome Panthers make a belated start to the 2023 Yorkshire Men’s Rugby League Premier Division season on Saturday (March 18) after their first two matches were postponed.

The Panthers head to Siddal Academy (2.30) aiming for back-to-back promotions after their fantastic season last year. 

Newsome won all five trophies they contested last season and didn’t lose a single match and head coach Richie Hawkyard said: “We want to start the season off well.

“The problem we have is that because we are new to the Premier Division we don’t know a huge amount about the teams in this league. They are a bit unknown to us, so we can only prepare the best we can. 

“We have had a good pre-season and believe we are ready to go, obviously it was slightly frustrating that our first two games have been postponed but it is what it is. This is amateur rugby so you have to expect any eventualities.”

On the squad more generally Hawkyard is pleased with how it’s shaping up. 

He said: “I think we have a very good squad with lots of talent. It is balanced with youth and experience and because we have only added a few players, we already know everyone. The players have been here a few years and we have all grown as a group together. Our dressing room is strong and I’m excited to see how we compete at this level.” 

Hawkyard reiterated his ambitions for the season and added: “Our aim is to get into the National Conference League (NCL) so being promoted up to the Premier is a baby step for us. 

“I’m very ambitious as a coach. I always was as a player and I’m no different now. Just because we are jumping up two leagues doesn’t mean I just want us to turn up and just get by.

“I want us challenging. My target is another five trophies this season! That’s what I’ve told the players. If you don’t aim high, then why are you doing it? We are a club that wants to be ambitious and play at the highest level we can which is the NCL.”