INTERNATIONAL Rafik Tahraoui looks set for a pivotal year, writes Mike Parsons.

The 23-year-old, from Warrington, is looking to establish himself in a new role on court as England’s European Championship qualification campaign gathers pace.

Tahraoui is no stranger to showing his adaptability though, having switched from top level water polo to take up the sport.

And the University of Salford student is excited by the challenge after his first taste of playing pivot in a recent qualifier in Greece.

“I have always been a back court player due to my shooting capability and my ability to score goals,” said Tahraoui, who has recovered from last season’s injury troubles.

“Pivot is the most physical position in handball. “You're required to fight and wrestle with the opposition’s biggest and strongest players, who are always the best defenders.

“I've worked hard in the gym since being injured and come into this season considerably bigger and stronger.

“I had a meeting with the coach after the game and he caught me off guard as he said he would like to put me in the pivot position from now on.

“It came as a surprise but, I'm ready to go all out and become the best pivot player I can be.”

Tahraoui says he was offered a contract from a club in Germany during the summer but turned it down due to having two years left of a masters degree.

He can expect more trips overseas with England next year though, while home legs of the European Championship qualifiers against Greece and Italy follow in April.