ILKLEY have been dealt a giant blow as they prepare to kick off the second half of their North Premier League programme.

Their 6ft 7in second row Adam Newman has been ruled out for the rest of the campaign with medial knee ligament damage.

With the Stacks Field club already short on locks, it wasn’t the news they wanted to hear.

Newman has been their main line-out jumper and will be sorely missed.

Swedish international Henrik Ek, Steve Burns and second teamer Peter Erskine are likely to vie for the starting places for Saturday’s trip to Kirkby Lonsdale.

Head coach Nathan Smith said: “Adam has made a big impact for us and we will miss him. We will have to weigh up all our options and work out how we will cope with his loss.”

Injuries have repeatedly disrupted the Ilkley pack this season and forced repeated changes to their line-out play.

“Sometimes when we have turned up for training we have had to work with a different thrower, a different lifter and a new jumper. It is the way things have gone this season, but hopefully after the Christmas break, players like JH Johnson and Joe Lowes will have shaken off the knocks that were troubling them.”

It hasn’t all been gloomy news for Ilkley. Powerful prop Josh Cockerham is ready to return after suffering concussion, while versatile Ed Brown and Declan Jackson have returned to the club after brief spells with Old Grovians and Otley respectively.

Off the field, there have been changes which have brought a new look to the club’s management structure.

Richard Moon and John Oddy have taken over the respective roles of secretary and treasurer, Gary Ferguson is the new matchday official, while Kim Ferris has become first-team manager.

Head of rugby, Rhys Morgan, said: “It is really good to have them on board as we are trying to take Ilkley to the next level.

“I am sure they will all play important roles in helping the club achieve that goal.”