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Thursday, 20 November 2014

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Haven knows they're not miserable now

CHAMPIONSHIP One favourites Whitehaven are riding high into the 2012 season under new coach Don Gailer.

The 56-year-old Australian, who coached the A-grade side of Brisbane outfit Norths Devils for the last three years, arrived in West Cumbria in December to find the cold weather tempered by high expectations for success.

A 30-strong squad including the experienced Carl Rudd and Lee Doran alongside Millom youngster Bradd Crellin and Barrow-born former Salford youth Max Wiper and a host of others are expected to ride high and be nailed on for promotion come September.

Gailer knows those expectations are there and has promised high quality from his side, who were beaten to a place in the Championship last season as much by a nine-point penalty for entering administration, as by Swinton and Keighley.

“With the playing squad, it’s a good squad and I had a bit to do with it before I got here,” he said.

“I think we’ve got a good blend of experience and youth, so that has made it challenging within the squad – they are all looking over their shoulders to see who is going to pinch their spot. That has made it pretty interesting all round.

“Our experienced guys are going to be important – Lee Doran, Richard Varkulis, who has a Super League background.

“The guy I have been really pleased with as far as experienced players go is Carl Rudd, who really stood up against Leeds. He has a pre-season under his belt, which he hasn’t really had for the past few years, so I am expecting big things out of him this year.

“On the young side, we have got guys like Bradd Crellin, who is coming along really nicely, Ben Karalius and the full-back we have signed, Jonathan Youds.

“I suppose it is probably unfair picking six or seven players out of 30, but I can’t go through and tell you all 30 are going to be outstanding players. As a squad, we are going to be an outstanding squad and hopefully we can be something the supporters can be proud of.”

Haven will be seen as near-certainties for promotion by just about any observer of Championship One.

Gailer knows the importance of being one of the four sides to go up, but the wily Aussie is not getting carried away.

He said: “We’ll be no different to any other club in Championship One – it’s all about promotion this year. That’s number one on the hit-list for the team and the club.

“We’ve taken the trials, or friendlies, that we have had as such, as friendlies, but we hope that we are going to be ultra competitive in the Northern Rail Cup.

“By the time we get to the competition, it is all about gaining one of those top-four spots.”

He added: “All the teams will have filled their rosters up with a team they think can be competitive, if not win it, and we’re no different from that. Our goal is to be there. If we’re not there, the world doesn’t stop – there will still be a competition next year.

“Hopefully with the new stadium going into Whitehaven, it’s going to be something spectacular in itself and we want to be playing in it in the Championship competition.”

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