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RUGBY UNION: Mason will give Orrell a kick-start next season; Ownership issue expected to be resolved in the next two weeks.

Byline: BY IAN HARGRAVES In Touch

HOPEFULLY Orrell's future will be resolved within the next fortnight, with Messrs Whelan and Lindsay retiring to the sidelines and a new management striving to undo the horrors of the last 12 months.

It seems unlikely that their talented, but heavily-pressurised coach Mark Nelson will be carrying on, as he has done so much good work for Sale that he seems sure to return there, but at least he will be leaving behind a core of useful players.

One of them is former Irish international Simon Mason, who returned to Orrell in mid-season before being sidelined by injury but is such a useful goalkicker that he currently tops the divisional charts with a success rate of 84.78%, fractionally ahead of Exeter marksman Tony Yapp.

Not that Orrell's current goalkicker James Moore is any kind of mug.

He has a success rate of 69.70and apart from that is quite capable of getting his backs moving if he receives the right kind of service.

One of the side's big enigmas is Warren Spragg, who was selected for the combined Counties touring side last season despite two indifferent performances for Lancashire.

On the face of it he should be a genuine star, as he has plenty of both pace and imagination, but unfortunately something frequently tends to go wrong, as it did on Saturday when he dropped a pass during a move that could well have produced a try.

Whether this is mainly due to lack of confidence I do not know, but I doubt if it helps him to be continually fielded in a different position - or in four different ones, as on Saturday.

One of Orrell's numerous problems will be facing them off-field as Whelan and co. will be handling them a so called clubhouse, which has been rebuilt following last season's fire, but clearly designed to be a function centre rather than a family-oriented rugby club headquarters.

I appreciate the need to raise money by letting it out for weddings and other social events, but a genuine, family-oriented clubhouse really is the heart and soul of a good club.

The pitch itself looks in pretty good order, and I only hope the current impasse over training facilities will be overcome, so the players no longer had to practice by running round a car park illuminated by the vehicle's headlights.

The whole sorry business surrounding Orrell should be a vital warning to all other rugby clubs, many of whom have found it impossible to cope properly with the modern professional code.

Rugby union was always played for fun, and the inevitable change of emphasis has caused a lot of trouble everywhere

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 30, 2005
Words:459
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