31st July 2018, 09:06 | england_lions
Richard Owen has been announced as England Community Lions' new Head Coach.
Owen guided Thatto Heath 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.
After retiring as a player in 2009, he became Head Coach of Wigan St Pats, where he stayed until 2015, guiding the club to the Challenge Trophy Final in 2013.
His extensive coaching experience extends to a year as Wigan Warriors' Scholarship Coach in 2016, while he was England Lions Assistant Coach between 2010 and 2016, alongside a leading host of both youth and senior Great Britain BARLA tours.
Underbank Rangers boss Richard Knight also becomes the Lions' Assistant Coach
The 32-year-old played professionaly for six years with Keighley Cougars, York City Knights and Hunslet RLFC after coming through the Huddersfield Giants Academy.
Knight began his coaching career with junior sides at the age of 18, before taking up his first Open Age role at 20.
He has coached current NCL Premier Division side Underbank for the past ten years and has spent time as a coach across youth teams at Huddersfield Giants.
Commenting on the appointments, 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.
England Community Lions Development Fixture: