Ruck and Rawl for Fylde

Gareth Rawlings
Gareth Rawlings
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SECOND row Gareth Rawlings says promotion is anything but a hot topic in the Fylde dressing room, even though the team are in their best shape for years and enter tomorrow’s match at Blaydon with a 100 per cent record at the summit of National League One.

Rawlings, signed in the close season from Potteries club Longton, said the subject of going up to the Championship had not even been raised, though he feels the club’s pre-eminence after five straight wins is well deserved.

He insisted: “We just have to make sure we survive healthy in this league. But come Christmas, if we are there or thereabouts, maybe we can think about it. For the time being, we just take it week by week and let’s keep the wins rolling.

“Anyone would have taken five wins and maximum points at the start – but I am not surprised.

“With the set-up here, the lads we have and the game plan, it is always going to be good to watch.

“The longer we carry on and force teams to try to play the same way, the better it will be. Every week is going to be a tough game – a bit of a cup final.”

The 28-year-old arrived at the Woodlands in the close-season with a varied track record.

He has played for Manchester, Limoges in France, Longton and Caldy.

Rawlings, known to his team-mates as Gaz, won county honours with Lancashire and had spells at Sale and Worcester academy.

When the opportunity arose to move to Fylde to further his playing and work career, he jumped at the chance.

He said: “I knew a lot of the lads from Lancashire already and I have known the coach Mark Nelson for a number of years from the Sale academy.

“When I heard of the interest of ‘Nelly’ and Brian Ashton, it was a kind of no-brainer with coaches of that quality.

“The feedback I got from the guys already here was so positive and it was either now or never. I am really happy up here. My family have settled in nicely and that all helps.

“Mike Brennand (Fylde chairman) helped me join a local company as an electrician, so that was a big pull in the current climate.

“To get a job and join a quality club like Fylde, it was an easy decision to make.”

Rawlings was in the side that beat Sedgley Park last Saturday at the Woodlands, claiming one of the seven tries in the 43-10 win.

“It was a fantastic win,” he added. “Local derbies are always edgy and the nerves showed a bit at the beginning, but we showed good character and stuck to the gameplan.

“We knew Sedgley were going to be strong up front.

Rumours were they were going to take us on there and we stood up to the challenge well. We got a couple of pushover tries from lineouts and our scrum was very strong.

“Congratulations have to go to the front row boys, who really dug in for us.”

Rawlings is fully aware of the threat posed by Blaydon tomorrow, but said the challenge was no different to others.

And he is fully aware that a Fylde side which has made such an outstanding start is there to be shot at.

He said: “Every side is dangerous in this league and you have to be on your game for 80 minutes.

“We are always under pressure and we put pressure on ourselves.

“We know that teams are going to come out to knock us off our perch.

“It is up to us to keep our composure, keep playing the way we play and keep notching up the wins.

“As long as we keep our composure and don’t worry about who is in front of us, we will be fine.”

Rawlings is looking to continue his forceful second row partnership with Paul Arnold.

He said: “I have known Paul for a number of years and he was another reason I came up here. I think we have a good understanding and we seem to work well together.”