INTERVIEW: Bears coach Tsang excited by Leeds Rhinos arrival this weekend - The Coventry Observer

11th Aug, 2022

INTERVIEW: Bears coach Tsang excited by Leeds Rhinos arrival this weekend

RUGBY LEAGUE: COVENTRY Bears boss Tom Tsang is relishing a clash against Super League champions Leeds Rhinos at the Butts Park Arena on Friday (7.45pm).

The eight-times Super League champions will make the trip down to the Butts as part of the club’s pre-season schedule, which will also see them tackle Castleford Tigers and Featherstone Rovers.

And it will be the first time Bears fans will be able to watch Tsang’s men compete under the club’s ‘homegrown’ philosophy, which has been introduced for the 2018 season.

Fourteen of Bears’ 26 strong squad are based in Coventry and Warwickshire while the other dozen live in the midlands, meaning Bears have recruited no northern players during the off-season.

It is hoped a local approach to this season will help the squad gel quicker and train more frequently as the season progresses.

Speaking to the Observer ahead of Friday’s crunch game, Tsang said playing Leeds Rhinos will be the biggest moment in the club’s history.

“It’s amazing to be playing Leeds Rhinos,” said Tsang.

“Our club has progressed from an amateur team to hosting rugby league’s champions. It’s definitely the biggest occasion for the club in its short history.

“The players are excited and all up for it.

“We don’t know exactly what team Leeds will play but for our men it will be a big game for them. They’ll want to put their best foot forwards to do themselves, the club and the fans proud.”

As well as eyeing a shock against Leeds on Friday, Tsang also hopes to improve the squad’s league position from last season during their League One campaign.

This year marks the fourth season Bears’ fourth year in League One, and last season provided Tsang’s men with an opportunity to adapt and learn from some of the country’s top teams.

He said: “Last year didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but it’s been a chance for us to learn and develop.

“Given the changes made we are looking forward to this season.

“Our first goal is to improve on our league position from last season.

“But the biggest thing for me is developing our philosophy as a midlands team and making sure the people at the club buy into this idea.

“We have had to say goodbye to some players that we and the fans wanted to stay, but we’ve now got local players with experience under their belt.”

Key players

Tom Tsang comments on two men he believes could inspire Bears to success in 2018.

Ben Stead – “Ben has played against us for a couple of teams. He’s joined our team as a composed lad. Others will get along well with him.”

Chris Vitalini – “Chris is a big athletic forward and has some serious ball handling skills. We’ve signed him from South Wales. I’m looking forward to seeing him in competitive action.”

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