Fylde’s summer recruit Michael Lawton is determined to nail down a permanent place in the side after his arrival in Lancashire for a year from the ranks of Irish rugby.
And the 23-year-old University of Central Lancashire student has found adapting to National League One rugby something of culture-shock on several levels.
He admitted: “It’a big step-up from playing in the top club division in Ireland, and it is definitely a lot faster,
“There’s the pace and the skill-set of all the players in our team and the opposition.
“It is something that I am learning in training every day and in every game, but it is more enjoyable to play in as well and there is a lot more of a spectator-friendly atmosphere.”
“I am settling in okay, and I am starting to find training a lot easier.”
Lawton, who played for Dungannon and Ballynahinch in his native land, made his home debut in the 38-3 home win over Tynedale after a false start the previous week against Loughborough when he had to retire early with an eye injury.
He admitted: “I was disappointed (at Loughborough) because I thought I was playing quite well - at that stage I felt as if I was contributing to the team
“I tried, but I really couldn’t play on - I knew I had to get my chance another time.”
Fylde overcame the handicap of having scrum-half Jordan Dorrington sent off just before half-time against Tynedale, a setback which seemed to harden Fylde’s resolve.
Lawton concurred, saying: “The guys showed great spirit, personality and togetherness to come through for more than half with only 14 men.
“In the team talk at half-time, we settled everything down and stuck to the basics and we got away with a good win.”
Lawton is currently undertaking a one-year top-up degree in sports studies at university and has committed to the Woodlands for the season.
He said: “A friend of mine played over here while he was at university and when I mentioned to him I was coming to study here, he gave me the contact details.
“I came to watch the last Lions’ test on television at Fylde and got to meet a few people around the club - they gave me an insight into how they operated and it was definitely something that I was happy to get involved in.
“To have Brian Ashton as one of your coaches - how can you say ‘no’ to that?
“He is a man who has been at the top for so long and someone who has been so successful - it was definitely something I wanted to be a part of.”
Lawton is part of an extending Irish influence at Fylde, Lawton joining Steve McGinnis and captain Evan Stewart.
He smiled: “It is nice to hear a friendly accent!
“Evan and Steven played exceptionally well against Tynedale and I hope to keep the Irish tradition going...”
Lawton’s goal for the rest of the season is clear.
“Hopefully, if I keep my performances consistent, and keep hold of this 15 jersey, who knows what will happen?
“I have just got to keep my head down and take it a week at a time and see how it goes.
“I will be giving nothing but my best week in and week out and hopefully it is good enough for a starting place.”
Lawton will get another start for Fylde tomorrow as they make the tough trip to the capital to take on second-placed Esher in National League One.
Winger Ben Rath takes over from Warren Spragg, who is moving house, while Ryan De La Harpe is set to return at scrum-half.
He is likely to share the number nine duties with Tom Webb.
Jordan Dorrington is suspended.
Adam Lewis is given a start up front, while Simon Griffiths is set to be rested.
Flanker Ben Vernon is unavailable, while another back rower Danny Maher is a doubtful starter after turning his ankle in training.
Skipper Evan Stewart requires a test on a recurring ankle injury.
Forward Cameron Thompson is drafted on to the replacements bench.
Ollie Viney is unavailable.
Fylde (probable) Lawton; Rath, C Briers, S Briers, Brennand; Johnson, De La Harpe; Birchall, Rylance, Lewis, Gore, Arnold, Stewart, Beaumont, McGinnis. Replacements: Altham, Burtonwood, Thompson, Webb, Barrrow.