Rotherham Titans job an ‘honour’ for new head coach Gareth Lewis
The shock departure of Gary Pearce this week after seven straight wins – 13 taking into account the six won at the end of last season – presented the former Huddersfield RUFC man with his chance.
Lewis (43) started as a player and advanced through the ranks at Huddersfield to become its director of rugby, winning a promotion and then consolidating the club in National Two North – the fourth tier of domestic rugby – before leaving in March.
Now after a short spell working at Cleckheaton, he’s ready to step up.
”I know the club well and the history behind it and it’s an honour and privilege to be its new head coach,” Lewis told the Advertiser.
"I have been in rugby a long time and I can remember Rotherham in the top tier of English rugby and Leeds being in there as well. It’s fair to say both have had a fall from grace in recent times but there is a little bit of a rivalry between the two this season which could be very interesting.”
Lewis will have support from Harvey Biljon, the former Jersey Reds DoR who has come in on short-term consultancy basis, and the two met the players and took their first training session on Tuesday.
"It has been a bit of a worldwind but I have got to know Harvey well in a short space of time and the back room staff and, most importantly, the players,” he said.
"Sevens wins from seven, it is unusual to have a change in coach after such a good run of form. That decision has been made and it is about now and hitting the ground running.
"It's obvious to see, and the players recognise this, that although the performances have been good, the exciting thing is that there is a lot of growth in the team.
"There are some tough places to go and I can vouch from first-hand experience is that everybody raises their game against Rotherham and so far clearly the boys have been performing really well.”
Lewis works as a PE teacher at Rodillian Academy Secondary School in Wakefield
He’s twice got the better of Rotherham in recent times with Huddersfield, despite the West Yorkshire club’s limited resources, and this helped convince Titans’ director of rugby Martin Jenkinson that he was the right man to succeed Pearce.
Jenkinson said: “At Huddersfield Gareth Lewis was constantly making a lot with not a lot.
“We have always been impressed with him and what Huddersfield have done against us with nowhwere near the ‘name’ players.
"He’s young, he's local and he knows this league.”