Dave Doherty believes that Harrogate RUFC are in a much better position to mount a challenge for promotion from the Northern Premier Division than they were this time last year.
The Aces finished third in 2017/18, just eight points shy of a promotion play-off spot, and their director of rugby says that the aim is to go one better this time around.
“We want to be fighting right up at the top of this division again, promotion is absolutely the aim and I feel that we are in much better shape compared to where we were 12 months ago,” Doherty said.
“The big difference is that we have enjoyed a good pre-season and played two really competitive friendlies.
“The boys have really been tested and now they’re ready to go.”
‘Gate will be hoping to hit the ground running when they kick-off the new campaign at Sandal on Saturday.
“It’s always a challenge going to Sandal,” Doherty added.
“They're a team who I have a lot of respect for, they play good rugby and they’ve recruited well, but we just can’t wait for the game.”
New recruits Nathan Wyman (centre), Tom Driscoll (prop) and James Dyson (number eight) could all make their debuts for the club at the weekend, however back row ace Jonny Coser will miss out due to a hand injury.
Winger Harry Jukes is another player who will not feature as he continues his recovery from a shoulder problem, but he is not too far away from full fitness.
Front row forwards Charlie Purkiss-McEndoo and Harry Butler have left Harrogate during the close season, signing for Darlington Mowden Park and Yorkshire Carnegie respectively.
Centre Keane Naylor has also departed Rudding Lane, while fly-half Luke White has taken up an internship in London, so his appearances for the club are likely to be limited this term.