Preston Grasshoppers appoint new head coach and assistant

Joel Unsworth is the new head coach of Preston Grasshoppers – replacing Paul Arnold for the 2022/23 season.

By Craig Salmon
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 8:38 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 8:56 am

He will be joined at Lightfoot Lane by his assistant Dan Orwin as the club looks to establish itself again in the National League Two North.

Both bring a wide range of varied experience to their roles and are highly qualified coaches being RFU Level Three award holders.

Unsworth joins Hoppers after a spell as head coach at Vale of Lune. He was previously director of rugby at St Josephs College, in Ipswich and is now part of the rugby set up at Kirkham Grammar School where he is also a teacher.

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Joe Unsworth (photo: Preston Grasshoppers)

Aside from his time at Vale of Lune he has also coached club rugby at Sandbach RUFC.

As a player he represented Hartpury College as part of his time with the Gloucester Academy.

The new head coach told the club’s website: “I am absolutely delighted to be joining Hoppers. This is a big club that is rich in heritage and a proven place where players of all abilities, backgrounds and genders come to enjoy their rugby.

"Following Paul Arnold is going to be big shoes to fill, but having spoken to director of rugby Gareth Dyer and other people around the club, there is a genuine energy and excitement having been promoted back to National Two.

"An opportunity and a challenge that we are all keen to grasp and enjoy.”

“There are a lot of talented players within the minis and juniors and this should form the base for all our teams.”

Orwin is a former physical education teacher who has worked extensively in youth rugby around Lancashire.

He spent six years at Myerscough College where he coached the RFU Sale Sharks AASE Academy players and headed up the academy’s strength and conditioning provision.

He has coached at Fylde RUFC and was the lead coach for Lancashire Under-17s and Under-18s squads.

He said: "Through my various rugby roles over the years I feel like I already have lots of connection to the club and to many of the players.

" Hoppers is a prestigious club with a very long and proud history, and I hope to be able to help add value to the club.”

Dyer said: “Firstly I want to welcome both Joel and Dan to Lightfoot Green. I know they will be made welcome by the Hoppers family and given everyone’s full support. They are two impressive guys who are clearly ambitious and have a track record of working hard.

“The recruitment process has been quite specific and we’ve gone about this in a targeted way. After a period of assessment which involved the input of our senior players, we identified the type of coach we were looking for. From that point it has been a case of then speaking to those we felt met that brief rather than a general approach to see whom might be available.

“We wanted highly qualified coaches with a breadth of experience who could build on the work done by Paul Arnold and really develop the talented group of players we have at the club.

Joel and Dan were coaches we identified from the start as fitting this brief and they have been in the mix throughout the process. We have taken our time and been thorough in our evaluation but also kept the short list quite tight throughout.”

“Joel and Dan have developed their experience across a range of pathways and are ready to take on a role like Hoppers.

"I really like how they go about their business and strategically they are good fit for the club given their links into schools and representative pathways.

"They get what Hoppers is as a club and how we can develop the “Hoppers Way” we are working on. They are both player centric coaches and I think they will both add hugely to the club."