Aspinall sets promoted ’Gate top five target

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Harrogate RUFC director of rugby Mike Aspinall insists past misjudgments won’t happen again when the club returns to National League Two North action on Saturday.

When the club last played in the division two seasons ago, a crippling budget and an excess of loan players cast Harrogate into a relegation scrap they failed to survive.

But after a rebuilding campaign in National Three last term, Aspinall is confident his side are better equipped to deal with higher demands.

“I know the mistakes we made when we went down two years ago. We are very unlikely to make them again,” said Aspinall.

“We had a lot of loan players and we maybe stuck to a brand of rugby that we wanted to play.

“I wouldn’t go back to that now. This season we will be more adaptable.”

Harrogate have been boosted by several new additions but winger Peter Wackett has moved to London.

Winger Steve Parsons has returned north after two years away and forwards coach Andy Boyde has quit full-time Championship rugby to join.

Versatile forward Rob Adair, full-back Barry Frost, scrum-half Danny Matthew and half-back Ben Johnson have also penned deals.

Aspinall has set his young and improved squad a top five target for their first season back.

He said: “I want us to be the best team in Yorkshire in National Two North.

“I am keen to set a goal that will stretch but the staff can only facilitate the goals the players set themselves.

“If this side set their hopes on just staying in National League Two, they are going to find it hard to achieve that.

“If we came top five it would be an amazing achievement.

“It’s a strong league throughout. I don’t think there are any easy wins.

“People will be looking at us and thinking, they have just come up.

“But I know we are not going to be an easy win.”

Club captain Jimmy Browne will miss the start of the season through injury and the responsibility has passed to Jacob Brady.

And Brady is excited to lead the troops out in Saturday’s opener at play-off runners up Stourbridge on Saturday.

“We are ambitious as a team, the coaches are ambitious and we want to win every game we go onto the field to pitch,” he said.

“We finished last season on a real high and we can’t wait to get back out there and continue that.”