COLERAINE Rugby Club got back into the thick of things last week with a series of matches testing the entire squad.
Training and pre-season practice have left the players and coaches feeling ready for action and now they hope those long hours of dedicated work will pay dividends. Three matches in a week will be the prelude to the league itself, starting on September 17.
Final training session for the squad
Coach Richard Kernohan is pragmatic as ever but there is a quiet sense of determination in his thoughts for the season to come.
Speaking on Friday he said: “On Saturday (September 3) we have a friendly away to Randalstown, followed by two conference league matches. We then have Ballymena 2s at home on Tuesday evening and Ballynahinch 2s away on the following Saturday.
“All that is before our opening Kukri Qualifying League match at home to Poartadown on September 17.
“We will be using the first three games to have a close look at everyone in the squad. At this stage there are only two or three people who will be playing in all the matches. There is a lot of competition for places and at this stage they are all up for grabs before the Portadown match.
“Training has been going very well at the club this summer. There is a lot of commitment from all the squad and that has been evident in the turn out week on week.
“Everyone is committing everything in the scramble for places. It is a great situation for the club to be in.
“We have had a really good pre-season and we are in good shape. We have great fitness and we can already see the depth in the squad.
“Now we have to translate that into winning games. That’s where the spirit amongst the lads will come to the fore.
“We know that a lot of the teams in the league have been bringing in new faces and there will be a new look to the league overall. We hear of great expectations in all the clubs and there is no doubt that the Junior League is going to be a very hard place this season – but we are ready for that and we are as prepared, committed and determined as anyone else.
“We will be approaching the season one game at a time. We have the league as a priority but we also want to progress in the Junior Cup, Towns Cup and especially this year, the All Ireland Cup.
“We are as ready as we can be and we are as determined as we can be and we will be going out there to win.”
The Coleraine squad sees many of the regular faces this year and several new ones to add to the mix. They will all be joining in the effort to outdo last season’s performance across all four teams and support for all the players and teams will be an important aspect.