Lough ends reign as Hoppers coach

Michael Lough

Michael Lough

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Michael Lough has stepped down as Preston Grasshoppers head coach.

The Australian will take charge of his final game tomorrow as Hoppers bring the curtain down on their National Two North season when they entertain relegated Sheffield Tigers at Lightfoot Green.

He will be replaced for the start of next season by one of his current assistants, former Lancashire, Sale, Manchester and Sedgley Park flanker Garth Dew, who is the son of ex-Hoppers skipper Chris Dew.

Lough said: “It will be my last game tomorrow.

“I made the decision a couple of months ago to step down at the end of the season.

“It’s because of work and family commitments.

“I have got two young daughters – Emma (8) and Sophie (6) and a business to run as well.

“We have already got my replacement in place for the start of pre-season training.”

Lough, who arrived in Preston as a young player and loved the city so much that he decided to settle here, has been in charge of the first team for the past two seasons after initially earning his coaching spurs with the second team.

In his first year, he led Hoppers to an excellent fourth place, although this season has not been quite as successful as the team has struggled with injuries.

“It’s been a fantastic experience and a honour to have coached the team,” Lough said. “I am still involved at the club in another capacity, I will be on the committee.

““But I am just unable to commit the time for the first team next season.

“We finished fourth in my first season which was quite a good effort for us. This year has been a bit of a struggle.

“There’s been a few games we probably should have won, and we’ve been hit by injuries. Having said that, there’s been some really good young players come through.

“Since I became coach, I have always wanted to play the game in the right way and in the way that we all enjoy playing.”

After a campaign of ups and downs on the field, Hoppers could still finish anywhere between seventh and 11th, thanks to the tightly-grouped mid-table.

With Jack Ward injured, Lloyd Davies and Phil Baines are paired at centre, with Lewis Allen at fly-half.

Anthony Elliott is on the wing and Phil Mills switches back to hooker after a game at flanker, where Luke Proctor takes over.

Meanwhile, Fylde are another side with position to play for. Currently fourth in National One as they prepare to welcome Old Albanians, s tomorrow to Woodlands.

Centre Stephen Briers plays his last game for the hosts, having decided to retire at 34. Fittingly, brother Chris will be alongside him in the threequarters for his final appearance.Warren Spragg is on the wing, Tom Burtonwood hooks and Ben Vernon is in the back row.

Hoppers: Taylor; Trueman, Davies, Baines, Elliott; Allen, Whyte; Madden, Mills, Altham, Irving, Murray, Proctor, Lees, Wallbank.

Fylde: Viney; Spragg, C Briers, S Briers, Brennand; Johnson, de la Harpe; Birchall, Burtonwood, Griffiths, Arnold, Gore, Robinson, Vernon, Stewart.