Dave Sayer has big ambitions for Newmarket RUFC — but has admitted any finish higher than ninth would be a bonus this season.
The Scaltback-based outfit head into their season-opener at home to Swaffham on Saturday (3pm) with renewed optimism after avoiding relegation last term.
Sayer returned to the club as head coach midway through the campaign, in February, and oversaw a run of four wins from their last six games to secure ninth place and their Eastern Counties Greene King League Division One status.
But ahead of their 2016/17 curtain-raiser this weekend, the Newmarket boss is hoping his side will be battling at the other end of the table this time round.
“I’m feeling good about the game against Swaffham,” he said. “The guys are looking fitter and stronger and a lot of things have changed.
“It’s been huge to have a pre-season with the team. I don’t know what went on before but when I came in the team were low on morale and were going into games expecting to get beat. The last six games of the season we changed that a bit.
“I was happy with ninth last season; it felt like winning the league for us.
“As a head coach I want to win the league. It’s going to be hard but if a coach says their target is less than the top three then you’ve got to look at yourself as a coach. We’re going for it. We’re confident this season will be better than the last one, but we’ll need a good start.”
Matty Kent has been given the captain’s armband for Newmarket for the forthcoming campaign, while new summer signings at Scaltback include inside centre Ryan Arnel (Bridgenorth) and second row duo Aiden Cooper and Dan Johnson (both Ely).
n Newmarket RUFC are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year and as part of the celebration will be hosting a Ball on Saturday, October 1.
n Former Newmarket RUFC player Anna Goddard was a member of the England Women’s Open Squad which beat Wales to win the gold medal at the European Touch Rugby Championships in Jersey.
n Freya Burt and Hannah Murphy, from Newmarket, were in the England Under-18 Girls’ team which finished runners-up to Wales in the European Junior Touch Rugby Championships in The Netherlands.