HUNSLET HAWKS are set for a good season, former Super League player Thomas Coyle believes.
Coyle was one of Hawks’ substitutes in the 20-16 Lazenby Cup win over Leeds Rhinos two days ago – and he feels performances like that on a regular basis will prove too good for Hawks’ rivals in Kingstone Press Championship One.
“It was good for us,” Coyle said of the four tries to three victory.
“The lads have been saying it is the first time we’ve beaten Leeds for a while, so it is definitely good for the confidence, especially at the beginning of the season.
“The way we played was good, especially against their pack. That could be a starting pack in their first game of the season, so it was a good performance.”
After a solid defensive effort in the 26-0 defeat at Featherstone Rovers on New Year’s Day, Hawks’ second warm-up game saw them offer a much greater threat with ball in hand.
“We worked a lot on defence before the Featherstone game,” Coyle said.
“Since then Baz [coach Barry Eaton] has taken a lot of time out to work on our attack.
“I think it showed that when we shape up and we’ve got numbers on the field we can cause teams damage.”
Two encouraging performances so far stand Hawks in good stead for their league campaign, which begins away to Hemel Stags on Sunday, March 2.
“Especially after Sunday’s performance,” Coyle said. “If we can come anyway near that week-in and week-out, I think we will go a long way to being up there at the end of the year.
“But I think in this league everyone will raise their game against us, because we’ll probably be the favourites going into each game. We need to be ruthless and we need to keep up that standard every week.
“It will be different from last year, when we were the underdogs. This year we will be the favourites, so our mindset has to be different.
“That will play a big part in our year and how successful we are.”
Coyle is confident Hawks have both the youth and experience to be challenging for the title.
“I’ve been quite surprised by how well the young players have done [in the two trial games so far,” he said.
“Then we’ve got people like Dave March and Danny Maun who have got lots of experience and they will keep everybody’s heads steady.”
With their league season not starting until March, Hawks’ preparations are still at a relatively early stage.
“We’ve got a month before the season starts and two more games, against Wakefield on Sunday and then Rochdale,” Coyle said.
“Whatever we need to improve on after those games, we’ve got at least three weeks to work on them before we play Hemel.”
Wigan-born Coyle, 25, began his career in 2008, making five appearances for his hometown club.
He also had spells at Halifax, Oldham, Widnes and Leigh before joining Hunslet last year.
“I’m really enjoying it,” he said.
“That’s why I signed again, it wasn’t a tough decision at all.
“I am still travelling over, but that’s okay.
“When Daz (Williams’, Hawks rugby manager) said he was going to offer me a deal I snapped his hand off.
“I didn’t even talk to any other clubs.”