Hoppers won’t be resting on laurels

Player-coach Paul Arnold has guided Preston Grasshoppers to the top of the North Premier
Player-coach Paul Arnold has guided Preston Grasshoppers to the top of the North Premier

Paul Arnold has revealed his friendship with Mark Nelson has ‘just about survived’ despite the Preston Grasshoppers head coach getting the better of his old mentor.

Hoppers were far too strong for Nelson’s Rossendale side last weekend, running out convincing 26-8 victors at Marl Pits.

The pair’s association goes back many years – with Arnold ahead of last Saturday’s encounter describing his opposite number as his ‘rugby dad’.

And although they were sworn enemies for 80 minutes, they still managed to enjoy a pint together in the bar afterwards.

“It was good to win, especially coming up against him for the first time,” said Arnold.

“Nellis was very gracious and humble after the game and said the best team had won.

“We had a pint together – we’re still friends.”

Hoppers victory over Rossendale – described by Arnolds as their ‘most complete performance of the season so far’ – saw Hoppers move to the top of the North Premier.

But with newly-promoted Pocklington arriving at Lightfoot Green tomorrow for their first ever meeting with Hoppers, Arnold has warned his men not to rest on their 

Pocklington are currently third from bottom after winning only one and losing five of their opening seven games.

“We have gone top after Saturday and the challenge now is to stay there,” said Arnold. “We are there to be shot at every week.

“The challenge is to be top at the end of the season – 
after 26 games, so there will be no resting on our laurels.

“People expect us to win most games we play – that’s an added pressure.

“We will be giving Pocklington the respect that they 

“They won their first game last week – they beat Ilkley at home so they will be feeling good after that.

“We will be taking them very seriously.”

Arnold revealed that he had a frank discussion with his men last week about their discipline – in terms of giving penalties away – and also the amount of handling errors they were committing.

He was pleased to see a marked improvement in both areas against Rossendale and has urged his men to continue in the same vein.

“I think we gave away six penalties on Saturday and only one in the second half,” said Arnold. “Handling errors were about eight.”