Fresh approach from Crockett gives Ionians promotion hope

Hull Ionians have appointed former England Saxons player Alex Crockett as head coach as they bid to secure a return to National One.

Alex Crockett, new coach of Hull Ionians.

The surprise promotion package of two seasons ago found the step up to the third tier a bridge too far last term, losing 26 of their 30 matches.

They return to a National Two North packed with five Yorkshire clubs as one of the favourites to secure the one promotion spot back to the third tier as they look to build on that learning experience.

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They will look to do so with former Bath, Bristol, Worcester and Newcastle centre Crockett calling the shots from the sidelines.

“It’s a step into the unknown for me because I don’t know much about the opponents we’ll be facing, but I am confident of starting with a win,” said the 32-year-old, who will also play when called upon.

“Most teams we play will want to beat us because we’ve come down from National League One.”

Club secretary Peter Sharp says Crockett has been a breath of fresh air for a club who found the step up last year to be tougher than expected.

Sharp said: “We learnt a lot of lessons about life at that level last year. If you make mistakes you get punished, whereas if you make mistakes in National Two, occasionally you might get away with it.

“Our forwards held their own in that league and it’s largely the same pack we’re starting the new season with.”

Across the city, Hull’s much- changed squad head into the new season and a first appointment with Preston Grasshoppers having had no pre-season, following the postponement of scheduled friendly matches against Beverley and Morley.

Huddersfield are back in the fourth tier having dropping down to National Three North last season. “We were delighted to bounce back at the first attempt,” said head coach Gareth Lewis.

“National Two feels like the proper national leagues. We’ve brought in quite a number of new faces and our first goal is to secure enough points to guarantee our safety.”

The possibility of a league retructure at tier four and five at the end of the season looms over the clubs, although nothing has been confirmed.

Harrogate, who finished mid-table last season, kick-off at home against a Stourbridge outfit who missed out on promotion by a single point last season.

Otley, who started promisingly last year before being sucked towards the bottom three, visit Birmingham and Solihull.