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Injury-hit Leeds star James Fitzpatrick returns home for new role

South Shields Westoe have enlisted the help of an old favourite to help kick-start their season.

The Wood Terrace side have brought in former player James Fitzpatrick as their new backs coach as they look to move away from the foot of the North One East table.

Injury-hit Yorkshire Carnegie ace Fitzpatrick has seen his professional career temporarily stall in recent months and he was ruled out of the rest of the season after suffering a cruciate knee injury last month in training.

But Westoe believe the input of the former Newcastle Falcons centre will aid their hopes of avoiding relegation, and will help bolster the current coaching team of Haydn Richards and Carlo Del Favo.

Fitzpatrick began his career at Wood Terrace with Westoe, before moving to Blaydon and then the Falcons, but after switching to Carnegie in 2014 he has found his career hit by injuries, including an ankle problem that kept him out of action for six months.

He started the season well, scoring two tries in six appearances, before his latest setback.

Benfield sponsored-Westoe RFC old local rivals Northern RFC away tomorrow, weather permitting, having beaten them at home last year.

Westoe have played 14 games this season and only won two with the last half dozen matches being close affairs as the Shieldsmen failed to get the rub of the green.

The first meeting between these two sides earlier in the season was also a close affair, with Westoe turning up the heat in the second half to record their first win of season.

They head into the fixture confident of recording a double over their rivals, but Northern have progressed this season and currently lie fourth from bottom.

It means that this game will be a real deciding factor whether Westoe can survive in the league.

Club chairman Ian Etchells said: “This young Westoe side are making really good progress and actually gave third-top team West Hartlepool a real fright in their last home game, only to lose in the final minutes 18–8.

“So with this in mind if the team can continue to progress on the same trend, combined with a bit of luck then I am sure that we can win another few games and make a real fight to remain in this current league.”