Gate bolster front line with host of new recruits

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Harrogate RUFC have unveiled a host of new recruits to bolster their frontline ahead of next season’s National Two North campaign.

The pack was a problem area for director of rugby Mike Aspinall during last season, with several long term injuries thwarting his plans.

Aspinall’s woes were added to at the end of the campaign when former club captain Jimmy Browne announced his retirement, leaving Gate short of prop-forwards.

However, Harrogate have secured the services of two prop forwards ahead of the new season.

Burly South African Nino Cutiño, 27, has joined from Yorkshire One outfit Scarborough, while former University of York club captain Fraser Kirkley has also arrived at Claro Road.

Aspinall said: “I have a good relationship with coaches in Yorkshire One and they were all complimentary about Nino. He was looking to move on to come for the better standard of rugby.

“He had heard that Harrogate was a great place. That’s the sort of person we are after.

“Fraser was York first team captain last year, but missed most of the season because he had his ankle pinned.

“He’s a big piece of kit and a tight head prop.

“It was exactly what we were looking for with Jimmy Browne stepping down.”

Aspinall has also strengthened the Harrogate pack with Ripon’s Ashley Plant and South African Willem Enslin from York.

Aspinall added: “Ashley’s making quite a step up but we had a look at him when he came to train with us last year. Physically he’s exactly what we are looking for. We look forward to helping him develop.

“Willem’s a ball-carrying number eight from York.

“He will need to develop to get up to National Two standard but he takes his rugby really seriously.”

Harrogate will commence their pre-season fixtures at Scottish side Hillhead Jordanhill on August 16 before welcoming Southend (23rd) and Sheffield Tigers (30th) to Claro Road.

Meantime, the rugby club has also announced a ‘Party in the Park’ to say farewell to its famous ground .

Gate will move to Rudding Lane in January after 118 years playing at their Claro Road base. To celebrate the move, Gate will take on Harrogate Town in a true game of two halves, with one half of football and the other of tag-rugby, on Sunday, June 28.

Bands will perform at the ground until the close at 9.30pm.

Organiser Gareth Gibbs said: “I am told by our historian that the most people ever to be at Claro Road was 2,300. We are trying to beat that.

“It’s going to be a huge night of entertainment.”