Coach Stanley eyes fast start to new campaign

Charlie Smith
Charlie Smith

Eastbourne Rugby coach Roger Stanley believes his players are in for a tough season opener against Sheppey at Park Avenue tomorrow.

The Blue and Golds kick-off their season against last year’s promoted side but Stanley believes the visitors are more than equipped to cope with life in London South East three.

“They were promoted in this division but they have recruited heavily. They will be a strong side and I’m sure they will be up there at the end of the season.”

The Eastbourne coach knows his side are in for some tough battles this season. But the introduction of new backs coach Rob Outen, coupled with a more free-flowing and expansive style of rugby, should allow them to compete with the best.

Pre-season performances have been encouraging but Stanley believes it will take a game or two before the players deliver the style they are looking for.

“We need to get off to fast start but I think it will take a couple of competitive games before we are at our best.

“If we start well it gives the players confidence in the style of rugby we play and will let them play with a bit of freedom.

“Last season we began slowly and you could see the anxiety creeping into the play because of the pressure to get a result.

“W are all excited by the start of the season and we can’t wait to get going. Pre-season seems to have gone on forever – now it’s the time for the serious stuff.”

Off the field the club have been busy. The clubhouse has been refurbished in time for the new campaign and chairman Fraser Brooks believes the facilities at the club have never been better.

“The infrastructure is all there for the players and it’s down to them to deliver when they cross that white line.

“We are all looking forward to season. It’s a tough league but we have to aim to be challenging in and around the top.”

Team line-up: Richard Barron, Jon Oakey, Josh Imich, Joe Tobin (captain), Matt Mottram, Jarad Berna, Tom Redman, Rob Light, Paul Keen, James Coultard, Charlie Smith, Nathan Ring, Shaun Everett, Max Cheater, Gareth Turner.

The seconds begin their campaign at Holbrook.

They have also enjoyed a successful pre-season and Stanley believes a number of them are pushing for first team places.

“We have some new guys coming in. They are not registered for the first team as yet but are able to play for the seconds this week.”