NEW BOSS Gary Thornton is facing a baptism of fire at Hunslet RLFC.
Thornton will take charge for the first time when the Parksiders visit second-placed Barrow Raiders in Kingstone Press League One today (6.30pm).
They are at home to fierce rivals York City Knights next weekend and then – after a bye week – end the month with a trip to so far unbeaten league leaders Toronto Wolfpack.
Thornton, who was appointed last week to replace former coach James Coyle, will learn a lot about his players in a short space of time, but the ex-Batley Bulldogs, Castleford Tigers under-19s and York coach is not expecting a massive improvement overnight.
Hunslet are fifth in the table and Thornton’s first target for this evening is a solid performance.
He said: “We have got to go and try and be competitive.
“That’s the main thing – we need to defend really well and take our chances when they come. We’ve got to cut out the silly mistakes and silly penalties. That’s been a problem for Hunslet this year and it’s one thing we have got to work on.
“We want to stay in the game as long as we can and play with a high completion rate. If we can do that and win the field position and territory battle we will be in with a chance.”
Thornton took training for the first time on Tuesday and admitted today’s match – away to the newly-crowned League One Cup champions – will be a good opportunity to see his new side in action against quality opposition. Hunslet have won five of their opening nine league fixtures, including a home victory over Workington last time out under caretaker boss Robert Roberts.
“I know the team is nine games into the season,” said Thornton, who has initially been appointed until the end of the campaign.
“If I make whole scale changes it will confuse everybody. We have got to do it gradually. I will be relying on the senior players to get us through. I am going to tinker with one or two things, but not too much.”
Meanwhile, Hunslet have released winger Gavin Duffy due to work commitments. Thornton has appointed Gary Barnett as an assistant-coach. Mark Cass will remain at the club in a similar role.