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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

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Summer rugby is way forward, says Distington coach

Trophy-winning Distington boss Gary Hewer is confident that retaining summer rugby is the right move for the Cumberland League.

Gary Hewer photo
Gary Hewer

Hewer, fresh from steering his side to a comeback win over favourites Kells in the Iggesund Cumberland League Division One play-off final last weekend, believes the game is a better spectacle played in the summer.

“It’s the way forward and needs to be sustained, from a skills and performance point of view,” he said. “There’s the issue of hard fields over summer, but I don’t think there were any serious injuries this year as a result.

“I’m sure that if asked, players would say they want fast-flowing rugby league, played by athletes. If we embrace it, there’s a bright future ahead.”

Distington trailed champs Kells 10-0 at the break but hit back to triumph 18-16 and lift their first major trophy at senior level.

“Kells were very dominant up the middle so we changed a few things at half-time, played more expansive rugby and scored three second-half tries,” said Hewer.

“We’ve been training and playing for nearly 12 months and were aiming to reach this game. It was our grand final. This was the big one for us.

“Going in to it we had played Kells five times and they had beaten us every time, and they deserved those wins, as they are a great side in their own right.

“But we knew that if every one of our players stepped up and produced their A-game, we wouldn’t be far away.

“We’ve produced 18 months of hard graft and I’m very proud of this group of players and very proud as a Distington lad who played in the club’s first game aged 15.

“We’ve come a long way in the past 29 years. But we are a small village team that hasn’t got two teams to keep players fit. We’ve had this success on the back of 30 players.”

Ex-Super League pair Barrie McDermott and Terry O’Connor were special guests at Distington’s presentation night two weeks ago, and the club took inspiration from McDermott’s side Leeds Rhinos’ recent successes.

“Leeds came from fifth place to win the last two Super League Grand Finals, and there’s no secret ingredient in there,” added Hewer.

“It’s sheer belief in terms of what they are about. And we took heart from that, because we also have great spirit.

“What we lack in skills we make up for in mental toughness and work ethic.”

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