FYLDE rugby club have continued to strengthen their ranks by completing their long-term pursuit of Longton forward Gareth Rawlings.
He has been on Fylde’s radar for some time and has been brought in to boost their forward power in an attempt to consolidate in National League One next season.
Rawlings was skipper at Longton – he has previously played for Caldy, Manchester and French side Limoges.
The Potteries club were very keen to keep hold of him and were disappointed that he left.
He was also at Vale Of Lune at the start of his career when Fylde coach Mark Nelson was there.
After completing the deal, Nelson said: “I am delighted to have Gareth on board at Fylde – he is a back five forward who will fit into the way we play.
“Gareth is an athletic player, combative and one who reads the game – he is a good footballer too, so he ticks all the boxes.
“We have helped him find a job (as an electrician) in the area – he and his wife have just had a baby boy, he is relocating to this area and he is taking another step along life’s path by coming to Fylde.
“He wants to prove himself at two levels higher than he has been used to at Longton.”
Rawlings said the move to Fylde was an opportunity not to be missed.
He said: “I want to improve as a player and I also have aspirations to one day, hopefully, play for England Counties. I believe that joining Fylde will help me achieve this goal.
“I’m looking forward to meeting up with the rest of the squad and getting started on what promises to be another tough season in a new league, National One. I hope I can contribute to further success on top of what has already been achieved.
“Knowing a lot of the lads from playing with Lancashire and getting the feedback from them about the club helped me in my decision.
“I know that how we play for the county under Nellie will certainly be the way Fylde play. It will be a big challenge but one that I am looking forward to very much forward and, hopefully, we can be just as successful this coming season as last!
“It was always going to be a difficult decision to leave Longton with it being my home town club and where myself and brother have grown up but I know that I have made the right decision for both me and my family.”
The Woodlands club have had talks with former Bristol and Gloucester fly-half, Rory Teague, who has been playing in Italy.
However, Nelson said that talks were at an ‘ultra-formative’ stage.
Though Fylde are recruiting – and are currently in talks with four players – they will not be paying big money.
Nelson said: “The first thing that I tell any player is that we can’t compete with championship and they cannot expect anything like what they pay.”