In many ways, Glenn Morrison has a thankless task at Dewsbury.
Ever since arriving at the club, Morrison has earned a reputation for helping the Rams punch well above their weight in the Championship, working with a budget largely inferior to those that their counterparts boast.
Mid-table finishes have become the norm at Dewsbury, but even that is, in reality, a grand achievement taking in all the factors working against them.
Year after year, Dewsbury’s star performers have been cherry picked by clubs with bigger financial lures. The build-up to this year was no different. Joel Farrell, Shane Grady and Dalton Grant, three of Dewsbury’s star performers over recent years, were snapped up by Batley, Halifax and London respectively, leaving Morrison on the lookout for replacements that fit into the club’s budget.
It has resulted in Dewsbury often putting faith in young, unproven stars, but it has reaped rewards.
Josh Guzdek a prime example. The young fullback was without a club following his release from Hull Kingston Rovers, but he enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence at Dewsbury last year and was named in TotalRL’s Championship Team of the Year.
Many believe that this year will be the year Dewsbury come unstuck, but Morrison is confident that the Rams can defy the odds once again this time around.
“Considering the budget we’re on and the constraints, we have a good solid squad,” he said.
“We do it right and the chairman doesn’t spend what he doesn’t have. We’re going to be secure there, but it does make it tough, especially with Toulouse coming in full-time and Batley coming with the money that they have. But I’m confident with the squad we’ve put together.
“Finishing where we did we get lower funding, but we won’t put ourself in trouble. We’d obviously like more money to spend, but so would all the other teams. We haven’t got as many bodies, but the quality is there. If we can keep players on the pitch we’ll be competitive.”
The challenge, as difficult as may be, is one Morrison doesn’t shy away from. Although the departure of key players hinders the club’s long-term development on the field, he enjoys the challenge of unearthing hidden gems.
“It looks like you’re doing a good job if you’re developing players and other top clubs want to take them away. But obviously you want to keep the players with you.
“It does make it tough, but when one goes there’s always another youngster to bring in that you think you can develop. Shane Grady is a massive loss, but we’ve brought in Hamish Barnes who’s been outstanding in the off-season and he can hopefully do what Josh Guzdek did the year before.
“In the last three years, we’ve had three players all up for the young player of the year award. It’s good to identify young players and bring out their abilities.”
Nevertheless, Dewsbury’s squad for their opening Championship fixture has reignited the dual-registration debate. David Fifita is one of four senior Wakefield players named in the Rams squad for their game with Rochdale on Sunday, but Morrison insists that they have little alternative.
“We’ve spoken a lot to Wakey over the off-season regarding their recruitment process regarding dual-registration and who will be available. We’re confident we can get the job done.
“We’ve got a fair few out. We only had 17 available at the weekend against Leigh and picked up another one. I’ve known for a while who is available dual-reg. I don’t want to abuse it and I’ll keep our identity, but when it’s a necessity I’ll use it.
“Every game is tough. Coming up, they (Rochdale) have been preparing for this game since their promotion last year and will treat it like a cup final to show they belong in this league. I’m preparing for a tough game, but it’s a game we need to win if we want to finish where we want to.
“I’ve seen some tape of them and they play some good footy. They’re up in your face and aggressive. If we do the job we know we can I’m sure we can get the two points.”