New coach lauds “unpolished diamonds”

New Swinton coach Allan Coleman says there are plenty of unpolished diamonds in the community game.

And the 45-year-old is ready to dig deep to add to his squad if he can hold on to the Heywood Road job beyond the end of this season.

Coleman is fighting an against-the-odds battle to keep the Lions in the Championship after stepping up from his role as assistant coach, initially in the short term, following the departure of Stuart Littler in the wake of a 14th defeat in 14 league games this year.

He made a positive start via a hard-fought 22-18 victory at Dewsbury, then his basement side drew 22-22 at home to second-bottom Oldham.

After tackling Batley at Heywood Road, they have another five games to go, starting with Sunday’s trip to Bradford.

But no matter how the season turns out, Coleman is keen to carry on at the helm – and draw on his extensive knowledge of the amateur game.

As well as enjoying a successful five-year stint as coach of Leigh Miners Rangers, whom he guided to both the National Conference League title and Conference Challenge Trophy in 2015, he is the England Community Lions director of rugby, overseeing the coaching structure for teams from Under 16 to open-age level.

“I’m passionate about the community game and I still watch as much of it as I possibly can,” explained Coleman, who had a spell as coach of Leigh Centurions’ Reserve team before linking up with his old Miners Rangers teammate Littler at Swinton in November 2018.

“Amateur rugby has both talented players who have not been picked up by the Academy system for whatever reason, and those who have dropped out of Academies but developed after playing in the community game.

“Look at the likes of Matty Ashton (pictured) at Warrington, and Frankie Halton, who is at Featherstone and has just got a contract with Hull KR to start next season.

“They both joined Swinton from the community game, and I’m convinced there are more like them.

“I’m ambitious and I want to keep the Swinton job, and given the tight finances clubs are working to, I’d certainly go down that route to look for players.”

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