Sam Cooke leads Spalding into Midlands Two East (North) action at Coalville on Saturday with “a massive season for the club” ahead of them.
Work continues on a new ground just outside Spalding as Cooke, along with new vice captain Adam McHugh and head coach Ben Williams, plot to keep up the momentum gained through a bruising win at Kesteven in the Lincolnshire Cup two weeks ago.
However, a 27-12 NLD (Notts, Lincs and Derbys) Cup defeat at Stamford has shown that Spalding are in for a tough time over the next nine months.
Cooke said: “For me, it was massive to take over from Ryan and Harry Sharman before him who are both good friends of mine.
“They are big shoes to fill, particularly as Harry was captain for six years and no one had done that before.
“I’d love to have the respect and honour that Harry and to get that, we have to build this club up so that it becomes one where people want to watch their rugby from on Saturdays.”
This is a tough league in what is a massive season for the club – and rugby in general with the World Cup starting this monthSam Cooke, Spalding Rugby Club 1st XV Captain
Sharman is available again after spending the second half of last season at South Leicester which achieved their respective league and cup double last season.
Williams said: “Harry has come back to us because he wants to play rugby with his mates again and he’ll find out that we play a different style of game to what the lads have done before.
“It’s a more intelligent, simpler type of rugby with three of four options to choose from.
“As a result, it’s going to take time to gel in what is a tough league but, with the players we have, we’re expanding our rugby and the vibe from the players is very good.”
Coalville are expected to provide Spalding with a tough test when they visit the Memorial Ground, with the first of this season’s vice president’s lunches to come when Dronfield visit Memorial Field on September 19.
Cooke said: “The players that Ben has brought in are excited with what he has pitched to us and hopefully everyone is going to see what the plan is.
“This is a tough league in what is a massive season for the club – and rugby in general with the World Cup starting this month.”
Meanwhile, in Midlands Four East (South), Bourne and Deepings are both at home to Thorney and Sileby Town respectively.
Bourne skipper Tom Dixon, now in his second season wearing the armband of the Milking Nook Drove club, said: “Pre-season has been pretty good under new coach John Forbes and we’ve had good numbers at our training sessions, with no aserious injuries except hooker Simon Slight who damaged some ankle ligaments.
“We’ve worked hard on our fitness, so I’m hoping to start the season by playing some free-flowing rugby and taking on some of the bigger sides.”
Bourne have added scrum halves Harley Guiliani and Tom Douglas, back from Australia, to their ranks alongside Joe Castle and Tom Douglas for the season opener at home to Thorney.
Dixon said: “We’re looking for a mid-table finish this season and we want to come away with wins from the games against teams that are on a level par with us.
“Defensively we’re quite strong and out opening game against Thorney should be a good one because our former coach Richard Horne has gone over to them, so it would be good to shock him and show that he made the wrong decision.”