Coaching overhaul at Westoe

ANDY Howells believes new coaches Mark Bedworth and Andy Buist can help turn Westoe into a real National Two North force this coming season.

ANDY Howells believes new coaches Mark Bedworth and Andy Buist can help turn Westoe into a real National Two North force this coming season.

Westoe rugby director Howells has recruited prolific Wharfedale fly-half Bedworth as player-head coach, and former Newcastle Falcons back-rower Buist to take charge of the pack.

Coveted Bedworth joins Westoe after pushing past the 1,000-point mark for National League One side Wharfedale last term, while Buist adds his Westoe role to his work as an RFU community rugby coach for Newcastle and North Tyneside.

Luckless Buist made 59 Falcons appearances between 2005 and 2009, but a succession of knee injuries left him unable to take up a contract offer at London Irish, and he was forced to retire from professional rugby.

The 25-year-old replaces Shaun Cassidy in taking charge of the Wood Terrace pack, and will be ably assisted by captain Gareth Nesbit, who takes up a coaching brief for the first time.

Nesbit has been propping at loosehead for a decade now, and has skippered the Shieldsmen for six years, and Howells is excited by the mix he has assembled.

“Every Tom, Dick and Harry was after Mark,” explained Howells, “and so we’re delighted he’s agreed to come to us. His record speaks for itself, he’s a really dangerous playmaker and he’s also a highly-accomplished goal-kicker, so he will bolster our playing side.

“And his experience will be invaluable in terms of his coaching. I’m delighted we are able to bring Andy on board too, because his pedigree with the Falcons is obviously first-class, and he’ll be a big asset in managing the forwards.

“Shaun did a great job and I’m keen to emphasise that, because it was always our plan to consolidate in National Two and that’s what we managed. But the board wanted to go in a different direction.”

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