Bridlington RUFC’s new director of rugby Jamie Muru has challenged his side to repeat last season’s sixth-placed finish in Yorkshire One.
The Dukes Park outfit begin their league season at Pontefract on Saturday, having won 18-17 at Barnsley in the Yorkshire Shield last weekend.
The majority of the squad which played at Twickenham in the National Intermediate Cup final has remained, and a couple of imports are due in East Yorkshire soon to strengthen the group.
Muru, 40, said: “We hope to finish in the top half of the table. We are definitely capable of that and depending on how we start the season, we could be pushing for the top three or four.
New Zealanders Morgan Kinnaird and Ezra Luxton have stayed in Bridlington while fellow Kiwi, number eight James Thompson has returned home but expected back in the next month.
South African Auryn Murray was due in Bridlington this week, along with fellow countryman Sizwe Zondo, who missed pre-season after going back to see his family for the first time in three years.
Hooker PJ Freeman, who is from New Zealand but has family in Bridlington, has joined the squad, and is expected to be followed by a South African prop and a fly-half from New Zealand later in the season.
Muru, who has been at Bridlington for 10 years, has stepped up from head coach to take over from Rich Girking as director of rugby.
He said: “I did a lot of the coaching last year, and I really enjoy the hands-on stuff. The organising side of things and working with the committee is what will be more of a challenge for me.
“It takes me too long to recover after playing these days, but I will try to keep myself fit and if we were struggling, I would never say no, but the main aim is to bring the younger lads on.
“One of these is Tom Benninger, who is only 19, but he broke his wrist and missed all of last season. Having him back is like having another new signing because he showed real promise in his first season.”
Muru admits his team are still playing catch-up with their preparations, because their 2012/13 season finished so late, due to the Twickenham trip, and having to play two rearranged league matches after the cup final.
“We started pre-season three or four weeks after most other teams, but if we hadn’t, the lads would only have had June off,” he added.
As for the league, Muru believes the new Yorkshire One teams will be among the contenders.
“Keighley have come down and you can expect them to win most of their home games.
“Promoted Doncaster Phoenix have a good set-up which will help them attract players from the area, and when we played Selby in the Yorkshire Shield two years ago, they were a really good young side.
“And York and Ilkley are always tough teams too.”