THATTO Heath’s Richard Owen has been announced as England Community Lions’ new head coach.

Owen guided Crusaders to the NCL title last season, just a year after the club gained promotion back to the top tier.

A former academy player with Warrington Wolves, Wigan Warriors and Widnes Vikings, he was named NCL Coach of the Year in 2017.

Owen said: “To be the Head Coach of the England Lions is something I’ve worked really hard to achieve over the last 10 years and I’m relishing the challenge ahead.

“I’m lucky enough to have been involved with the Lions over several years and owe a lot to my predecessors on how things are done correctly and professionally.

“I would also like to thank my assistant coach Richard Knight for is efforts whilst this programme has been set up. He is a very committed coach with a great work ethic and someone who will be a great for the Lions moving forward.”

The pair will lead on the running of the the England Community Lions (ECL) Development Squad and they will first work with their England Community Lions development squad at a training session on Thursday, August 5 at Hindley ARLFC, before reducing this to a 20-man squad for their upcoming match against Wigan Reserves.

Thatto’s Matty Norton and Mike Stark, plus Pilkington’s Ryan Hilliard are in the squad.

In the Premier Division Thatto Heath defeated West Hull 19-4 to climb above them to third.

Paddy Flynn scored two tries in that clash at Close Street.

In Division One Pilkington Recs edged a tight game at Skirlaugh 28-24 and are currently in sixth spot.

Clock Face, who had no game at the weekend, are currently third in Division Three.

This Saturday Thatto travel to Underbank Rangers while Pilkingtons make the trip to York Acorn.