CHANGES to Northwich Rugby Club’s senior coaching set-up have been confirmed.

Head coach Andy Roberts has stepped down and new appointments have been made along with a rugby committee being formed.

This follows on from Yan Cartman stepping in as the new director of rugby after Martin Poste’s departure from the position in October for health reasons.

Current player Sam Naylor, who was promoted to assistant coach in November, has been promoted by Cartman as Roberts’ replacement.

Naylor’s first appointments include John Brotherton as assistant coach, and Nathan Rushton from Caldy RUFC as a scrum consultant.

Aaron Collins will continue to take on the strength and conditioning role.

Despite great strides taken by Northwich RUFC over the past few seasons, including a promotion to the highest level of rugby in the club’s history, life has been challenging at level 5 this season and the side remain winless and rooted at the bottom of the North Premier.

“In what has been a very challenging and testing six-month period, I feel that the time is right for somebody else to lead the club as we enter the second half of the season, and the planning starts for next season,” said Roberts upon his exit.

“The step up to National League Rugby after the long Covid break has proven to be a huge step up for the playing squad.”

The first XV began the new campaign 13 players short from the promotion season due to player retirement, moving from the area, work commitments or injury.

“I felt privileged to be asked by Postie and the club to come and lead the first team as they entered the National Leagues,” added Roberts.

“Sadly, however, with Postie’s illness and him subsequently leaving his role as director of rugby, we never quite had the opportunity to work together as we had planned for many years.”

So Northwich have set sail in a new direction.

Cartman, Naylor and Brotherton are very familiar with each other as they were all part of the undefeated Northwich team that successfully made it all the way to Twickenham in the National Cup in 2006/07.

Northwich are now determined to strengthen player and coaching development throughout the club.

Naylor said: “I helped Northwich reach promotion into this league and feel that I have unfinished business with this group of players.

“It’s a tough task, but after seeing the character shown in recent weeks I have every faith that we can turn things around.”

Brotherton added: “I’m excited for the opportunity to work with Yan and Sam and coach at the club that I played at.

“I am looking forward to developing an exciting brand of rugby at Northwich RUFC.”

Northwich’s first test under the new management and coaching structure will be the visit of Sandal to Moss Farm on Saturday, kick-off 2.15pm.

Sandal, third from bottom in the table, gave Northwich early warning of how difficult life can can be in the North Premier when they won the reverse fixture 71-18 in September.