Ben Scully is braced for a tough start to the London League Division One North season, with three of Sudbury Rugby Club’s first four fixtures away from home.
But the club’s head coach is confident his team, following a second successive promotion, can be a force to be reckoned with. “The boys are realistic, but they have that competitive edge and want to do well,” he said.
Sudbury start at Saffron Walden on Saturday (3pm), champions of Division Two North East last season who Sudbury finished runners-up to before being promoted through the play-offs.
After hosting North Walsham a week later, they face trips to Old Priorians and Chelmsford.
“We are ready for the first game. There are a few things to work on. There’s always a bit of tweaking,” said Scully.
“You don’t want it to be perfect because then you’ve got nowhere to go. But we have made great strides throughout pre-season. We are as close to being ready as we can be.”
Scully will select ‘what will be my best 15 to give us a winning start this weekend’, but after a couple of pre-season games, he is spoilt for choice.
Around 40 players have attended pre-season training, including several of the Colts (under-17/18s).
“What is really positive is that a lot of people are up for selection. Pretty much every position has two people who deserve the jersey and I would confidently select,” he said.
All the players from last season are still at the club, and three new ones have arrived – Alex Zahid (second row) from Ipswich, centre Adam Kroon from Bury St Edmunds, and lock Jack Palmer from St Joseph’s College. Palmer suffered a broken wrist in the pre-season game at Luton three weeks ago.
Last season’s captain, Justin Burton, is also out as he recovers from a shoulder injury sustained in the 22-18 play-off victory over Hammersmith and Fulham.
Scully will not set a target for the season. Instead, this week at training he set an initial target for the first few weeks, and further targets will be set as the season goes on.
“I’m not going to be pessimistic and say we’ll just stay up, or optimistic and say we’ll win the league,” he said. “We know it will be a tough and quick league. Games are likely to be close, up to about 60 minutes. We have worked hard and aim to outlast teams over that last 20 minutes. That’s where we expect to win games.
“All we can do is prepare ourselves in the best possible way to win as many games as we can.”