THE choice of half-backs will add intrigue to what is sure to be keen competition for places at Dewsbury Rams in the coming season as the side seek to fit six candidates into two, perhaps three places.
Coach Warren Jowitt is relishing the battle for the half-back spots at Tetley’s Stadium and the pre-season games will be particularly interesting with Scott Spaven, Cain Southernwood, Dwayne Barker, Pat Walker, Mark Barlow and Ed Barber all seeking to impress.
Some can play in other positions but the strength in depth is encouraging.
Jowitt remarked: “The situation is totally different to last season. Once we got into the league season, we had Pat Walker and Dom Brambani there and they were as safe as houses because there wasn’t adequate cover. Now we have several who can take over.
“Scott Spaven is looking really good. He is not the fastest but he has a quick brain, good thinking skills and can direct people around the park. He also looks a very useful tactical kicker.
“Cain Southernwood is very fast, he doesn’t have the experience but his pace will frighten teams. Pat Walker has looked at the others and realised he isn’t safe this year and has really impressed with his work so far.
“Mark Barlow and Ed Barber can easily take over the positions and Craig Cook has experience at half-back as well as hooker while Dwayne Barker can boss the team for us. He’s very hard on himself in training and also hard on his team-mates, he won’t stand any nonsense and makes them put the work in.”
Jowitt had just finished a daytime training session with Barker, one of several players to have attended voluntary sessions. The coach remarked: “I trained with him, but I won’t be doing it again, he’s very fit and strong and is a great leader. His attitude is brilliant and he doesn’t hesitate to hand out roastings.
“Ayden Faal came in on his own last night and nearly all the lads are doing extra work.It started when I put a notice on the board telling them of three disciplines to be done over a period of four weeks, they have done them and then come to do the extra work.”
Jowitt also paid tribute to former skipper Adam Hayes, who was forced to retire as a player because of injury and is now on the coaching staff.
He added: “Adam is proving a very good coach and is taking his badges to qualify.
“He was a good captain and his leadership qualities on the field are coming across in training. He doesn’t like players being slack and gets onto them.
“His attitude takes some of the pressure off me because players sometimes get used to hearing the same voice and Adam adds variety. I think he will make an excellent coach.
“Certainly there is a big buzz around the place. I go home after training and am excited at the prospects for the season. It reminds me of the year we went through the league unbeaten.
“Last season wasn’t the same and it all felt a bit flat. The early matches went fairly well but we faltered when it came to the league. I don’t think that will happen this time.”
Jowitt will introduce the players to fans tonight (Friday) from 7.30pm at the Meet The Players night at the ground when the new shirts will also be unveiled.