THINGS are hotting up at Coleraine Rugby Club as pre-season training gets into full swing

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As players get back into the thick of contact training, head coach, Richard Kernohan and this season’s First XV captain, Jonny Gault, have been looking forward to the new season and that starts with as many players as possible coming to training.

Jonny has taken over the reins from Stephen Dickey and he is looking forward to a great season. He said: “It is an honour and a privilege to be captain this season. I am going to be giving a hundred percent to the club and I know that each and every player will be doing the same.

“We want to do as well as possible this year and with the effort being shown in training I believe we have the potential to play some very good rugby. We have a lot of strength and depth in the squad and we are all looking forward to getting stuck in and looking for good results.

“For now we want as many people as possible to come down to training. Current players, new players and those returning to the game are all welcome. Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 7.30pm. Come on down and join the fun.”

With the first games due at the start of September, Richard knows there is a lot to do to keep last season’s positive finish going. Speaking as he starts his third season in charge he said: “We really came together as a side in the second half of last season and the final league standings were testament to that.

“This season, although a few of the squad have left, we still have the basic building blocks of the team in place. A lot of the players are still here and that helps us in terms of building the team.

“Training is well under way and already we can see that all the players are hugely committed and serious in their attitude. Things are progressing nicely from a player point of view.

“There is a camaraderie throughout the rugby section. The summer five-a-side, tag and cricket events have helped develop that and many thanks go to Mark Giffin and the others who organised the events.

“The boys are working hard and we are in a much better place team wise than we were this time last year. With a few new faces and so many returning, there is a lot of competition for places in all positions; a great situation for a coach to be in.”

The new season starts off with some very tight fixtures but there is a bit of relaxation before that. Richard said: “We have a training weekend for the senior squad coming up in Donegal and it will let everyone really get to know each other before we start our campaign.

“This season we will be taking each game as it comes, we will approach them all like cup finals. Every match is important and we want to have a good run in the cups and the league.

“After the opening cup matches we have our first league fixture at home, entertaining Portadown. They are probably favourites for the league and we could not have a harder opening game.

“The next league game is away to Donaghadee. They are an unknown quantity and we have to remember they beat us in the cup two years ago. We follow that with Cooke at home.

“We will have matches just about every weekend so it is going to be a long hard campaign and it will take all our determination to produce the results.

“We have a strong squad, a strong rugby section and a lot of support in the club committees and officers behind the scenes. We will all be working together and working very hard, to translate that effort into success on the pitch for each of the teams, in each of the cup competitions and all of the leagues.”

Rugby training for players at all levels is on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, starting at 7.30pm, at Rugby Avenue. Everyone is welcome. New players. Returning players. All abilities. Come along, talk to the coaches and players, get fit and join in the fun.

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