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Ruck Stars: Simon plans Orrell future; Ex-Irish star Mason steps into Nelson's shoes.

Byline: RON ROBY

ORMER Irish international fullback Simon Mason has been appointed director of rugby and coaching at Orrell for next season. He will replace Mark Nelson, who is currently in charge at Edge Hall Road as well as being the backs' coach at Sale Sharks.

Mason is already making plans for next season and is likely to be very active in recruiting this summer as well as providing his own kicking talents.

This year's skipper Richard Wilkes is convinced that the club has a bright future, despite their drop to National Two at the end of the season.

'The squad had a meeting last Tuesday with a core of members who will be guiding the club next season,' said Wilkes. 'Tony Pegg and others gave the players an impressive presentation on the way ahead.

'Simon Mason will be playing a key role and I am confident that a large percentage of the playing squad will stay, providing they are not given better offers elsewhere.

'Despite our number of losses this season, the spirit in the squad has been as great as any I can recall in my career.There is good will amongst the players and the lads really get on well together.'

With Doncaster and probably Newbury, both big spenders, moving up to National One, it is more than likely that Orrell will have as attractive a budget as any otherclub in National 2. Apart from money from the RFU , it would appear that club owner Dave Whelan will be contributing to the budget.

Orrell have a real battle on their hands this afternoon , when they entertain promotion favourites Bristol.

The West Country side, once a giant in English rugby and coached by ex-England scrum half Richard Hill, have been putting in some scintillating performances and today's encounter could be most entertaining.

One thing for certain is that despite the contest being between top and bottom, Orrell will give their all.

'I have no doubt that in spite of being a little blighted by injuries, thelads will be very competitive.,' said Wilkes.

'We seem to play better when we are up again-st the top teams

CAPTION(S):

NEW MAN: Simon Mason
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 9, 2005
Words:363
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