New era starts for North Walsham as former Northampton and Wasps fly-half takes over

PUBLISHED: 11:25 01 July 2016 | UPDATED: 12:56 01 July 2016

North Walsham head of rugby James Brooks, left, is welcomed to Scottow by president David Horne, centre, and playing director Alan Hepburn. Picture: Richard Polley

North Walsham head of rugby James Brooks, left, is welcomed to Scottow by president David Horne, centre, and playing director Alan Hepburn. Picture: Richard Polley

Richard Polley

Excitement ahead of the new season has shot up at North Walsham after former Northampton Saints fly-half James Brooks was unveiled as the Vikings’ new head of rugby.

The 36-year-old former England sevens international has picked up the reins at Scottow following the exit of club stalwart Nick Greenhall as coach at the end of last season.

Brooks, who also played for Wasps and Leeds Carnegie, as well as league for London Broncos at the start of his career, has signed a three-year contract with the London One North club.

His position includes a wider remit to oversee the development of the playing side of the club and develop links with local schools, as Walsham begin a new partnership with the Wensum Trust, which is based at Hellesdon High School in Norwich.

“First and foremost it’s going to be a challenge,” the new Vikings boss said. “I’ve come back from Hong Kong, I’ve spent the last three-and-a-half years there (as head coach of Kowloon RFC and Hong Kong RFC) and was looking at opportunities and saw this come up.

“With the links with the schools as well, there was certainly interest in that area.

“It’s about re-engaging with the people in the local area, I’ve obviously come from a very professional background in rugby and I think I can bring in a good working values ethos.

“It sounds like there’s a lot of people in the area who want to get involved with the club and it’s a matter of me getting out there and making sure we get people down to the games.”

Walsham finished in mid-table in London One North for the third successive season, allowing an excellent start of 10 wins in 13 games to fizzle out into a sixth-placed finish.

Now Brooks is tasked with developing the club as a whole, as the Vikings look to bring an end to a six-season spell outside of the National League system.

“I’ve got to see what squad I’ve got, pre-season starts next Thursday so starting next week we’ll see where we’re at,” Brooks continued.

“Obviously a massive part of that is going to be conditioning but I want the boys to come down and enjoy the sessions as well, play successfully and hopefully we can achieve some good stuff.”

The Vikings remain Norfolk’s highest ranked club, playing a level above Diss, Norwich and Holt again next season, and having beaten Diss 40-0 in the Senior Cup final at the end of last season.

With a new clubhouse extension, including a fitted kitchen, soon to be completed as well the appointment of Brooks has raised hopes for the future amongst the club’s committee members.

“This is a new era for the club, I think it’s going to be exciting times,” Walsham president David Horne added. “We’ve had a period of consolidation at the club and now we need to move it forward a bit and I think James is going to be key to that.

“Not only for the seniors though, he’ll play a big part in the youth rugby and the transition to senior rugby and obviously it’s a big bonus working with local schools promoting not only North Walsham but rugby across the county and getting more people involved in the game.”

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