Scunthorpe Rugby Union Club confident going into new season
Scunthorpe RUFC will begin the new National Three Midlands campaign on the back of their best-ever pre-season, according to head coach Tim Robinson.
The Greens open the season on Saturday, with a home game against Three Counties rivals Mansfield – a repeat of their final match of the last campaign, which ended in victory for the visitors.
And while securing their Level Five status will again be the priority for Scunthorpe, Robinson expects a 'fitter and wiser' squad to at least match last season's efforts, when they regularly challenged for a place in the top five.
"I think we're ready for it," said the former Heslam Park full-back, heading into his fifth season as coach.
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"We've had probably one of the best pre-seasons I've known of in terms of player turnout, commitment and the environment they've built up.
"It was refreshing to go back and it's been even more refreshing to see the attitude and commitment of the players so far.
"Obviously to continue to retain our status of being in this league is the first target.
"But this is our third year at this level now and some of the younger of the players have been in it for a couple of seasons and have seen the level they have to get to
"Over pre-season, a lot of them have responded to that, which is pleasing to see.
"Last year we were battling with that mid-table crew. We could have finished fourth, but we finished ninth.
"As long as we're in that sort of mix again, I'll be very happy."
Scunthorpe have tackled Hull RUFC, beaten Newark and lost to Hull Ionians as part of their pre-season programme, but results from those games have played second fiddle to performances and tactics as the Greens freshen up their approach.
"We've changed a few structures this year and a couple of game plans we've had for a few years, I've analysed DVDs from previous seasons and tweaked them a little bit to make sure we've got the right players in the right areas of the field within games," continued Robinson.
"We've also looked at competing more at the break down and winning more turnovers to play off them."
The Scunthorpe coach, who has recruited Grimsby second row Si Wellar and brought prop Al Fagan back to Heslam Park after a year at Hull Ionians, believes a repeat of last season's final fixture is the perfect way to kickstart the 2012/13 campaign.
He says the Greens have a point to prove after being beaten 14-12 by the Nottinghamshire outfit, who secured themselves a top five finish as a result of the success.
"They turned us over the last game of last season with the last kick of the game," Robinson added.
"We've got a point to prove from that because it meant they finished above us in the league.
"We've got pretty much the same squad, but hopefully the lads are fitter and wiser than last year."