Bears flying flag for Midlands as League One kicks off

Coventry Bears will play their first League One game of the season on Good Friday against Oxford at Butts Park Arena.

As well as climbing the table, the club has made boosting the profile of rugby league in the Midlands a priority for this season.

Bears skipper Simon Phillips is looking forward to helping the sport develop in a part of the country where it has not traditionally been played.

“It’s been a really good experience so far, the club have been great with me and my family and I’m thoroughly enjoying it,” he said.

“Being from Australia, everyone loves rugby league over there but the Midlands are not somewhere you associate with the sport.

“It’s important to the club to develop rugby league in this area and I know that there is a lot of attention on the University team and the lads have been going into schools and things. 

“It’s part and parcel of being a part of this team, we have a duty to promote both the club and the sport.

“The goal for us this season is to get as far up the table as we can and be pushing for the play-offs. We won’t be too disheartened if we don’t get there because it’s going to be a big ask but we’ll be pushing as hard as we can and don’t want to finish at the bottom of the table.”

Phillips, 31, joined Coventry from Brisbane’s Norths Devils in the close season. He can’t wait to get stuck into league action, after having played in the Challenge Cup and League One Cups so far this season.

“I’m really excited for the game, I can’t wait.  We are all really looking forward to it and the fact that it’s going to be at home is an added bonus,” he said.

“We had two pre-season games and we lost one and won one. Being a team in the Midlands, a lot of the lads have come from rugby union so they’re still learning the game and we have a few young guys here too but it’s all starting to come together.

“Losing those two games against Oldham was a shock. Being new to the league, we didn’t really know what to expect but I guess you learn more from losses than wins.

“We know what areas we need to work on now. This is completely new for us but I guess other teams aren’t going to know what to expect from us either.”

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