FLEETWOOD RUFC start pre-season training tonight, and hopes are high of going one better than last season’s promotion near-miss in the 2010-11 campaign.
The Melbourne Avenue club lost to Widnes in a play-off, after finishing runners-up in the North Lancashire/Cumbria League, but player-coach Roger Banks is convinced the lessons have been learned ahead of his second season in charge.
Banks had a successful first campaign following his switch from Fylde, but he admitted it was a learning process at the club at level seven of the RFU pyramid.
The packman said: “When I first came to Fleetwood, I didn’t know what to expect but I have learned a lot.
“No-one expected us to do as well as we did and I am very optimistic about the new season.
“Last season we had the best defensive record on in the league. Unfortunately our attacking play was not as good, otherwise we would have gone up.
“That’s why signing Craig Aikman from Fylde is important because he will give us attacking options from scrum-half.”
Fleetwood have recruited former Fylde prop forward Nick Smith to bolster their front row.
Banks has big expectations for another prop, Ben Corless, who is based in Garstang.
“He is only young but he has shown a lot of promise,” said Banks, “and has already played for Lancashire Under-20s.
“Further down the line I can see him stepping up to play somewhere like Fylde or Preston Grasshoppers, but in the meantime we are glad to have him with us.”
*Fleetwood’S players will be getting on their bikes on July 28 ... for the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride.
Banks, who will take part in the long-distance pedalling himself, said: “To get 28 players to take part and cycle 62 miles really is something.
“We will be raising funds and it is a team-bonding exercise.”