All change as Ben Wade-s in to aid Sheffield’s promotion push

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It is all change at Sheffield RUFC this season - as the club set their sights on a top-three finish in the Northern Division - North 1 East this season.

Sheffield, who travel to Mansfield for their first pre-season game on Saturday before a cup game at Middlesbrough the following weekend, have appointed a new first-team captain and vice-captain, as well as freshening up their coaching set-up.

Ben Wade, a former Premiership player and ex-Sheffield Tigers head coach, has taken over the post of Director of Rugby at Abbeydale, and Simon Tillyer is the new first team captain - replacing hooker Carl Mortimer, who has moved to Wath.

Thomas Marples, a loose head prop with almost 300 caps, has been appointed as first team vice captain.

“It’s a real honour,” he told the Telegraph, “and I can’t wait to get started.

“Ben is an ex-Premiership player with a good pedigree, and he will work closely with our excellent junior section to integrate them into the senior squad.

“Simon has been at the club for four years now, and has made a big impact on and off the playing field.

“We’ve added a couple of decent players, but we can’t get too carried away. It would be wonderful to achieve promotion, of course, but a lot of hard work needs to be done before that happens.

“We have been in the top five for the last two seasons, and hopefully we can improve on those finishes and cement a top three position this time around.”

Also making the switch from Dore Moor is former Tigers captain Richard Joel, who has also brought fellow second-rower Steve Pearson with him.

Winger James Twomey has also joined from Otley, whilst James Ireland and Laurence Thomas have moved to pastures new.

Martin Balshaw has also elected to follow Mortimer and move to Wath, who play in Yorkshire One.

“Richard played at Sheffield early in his career before joining the Tigers, and he’s a massive addition to our squad,” Marples added.

“He’s already bringing lots of new ideas to pre-season, and he’s full of enthusiasm. Steve was Richard’s partner in crime last season at Dore Moor, and he’s a useful asset for us. Steve is one day younger than Richard, and together they make a great second-row partnership.”

Sheffield have also announced the ‘signing’ of former Sheffield Eagles captain Jack Howieson, as Fitness and Skills Coach, and 32-year-old Adam Byron has the responsibility of coaching the club’s backs.

Tillyer’s men are expecting long-term absentee Joe Cribley to make his return from a season-long injury this season, having been pencilled in for a return to full-contact work in November, and the ever-reliable number 8 Andy Kelly will again form an integral part of Sheffield’s plans when he returns from honeymoon.

“Ramzey Adamo is looking strong in the front row, many others are competing for places, and we have a healthy number of forwards all of whom are capable of playing in the first team,” Marples added.

“We are looking strong.”

Sheffield kick off their league season away at Pocklington on September 7.

Their first home game at Abbeydale is the following Saturday, September 14, against Driffield.