Preparing for a whole new set of challenges in the North Premier League, Preston Grasshoppers have recruited strongly.
In addition to head coach Paul Arnold, new faces at Lightfoot Green include centre and assistant coach James Fitzpatrick, a former Newcastle Falcons player, forwards Matt Lamprey and Ollie Trippier from Fylde.
Other new signings are backs Sam Stott and Jake Squirrel from Vale of Lune, new skipper Paul Millea, the ex-Macclesfield hooker, centre Alex Hurst from rugby league, Tarleton’s Slovenia winger George Skofic and back Scott Jordan, returning from Wharfedale.
All except Jordan are named in tomorrow’s squad as Hoppers start with a trip to old rivals Sandal.
Hoppers director or rugby Gareth Dyer admits he and head coach Arnold have not set any specific targets for this season, but accepts that they will be highly fancied to secure an immediate promotion back to National League Two North after last season’s relegation.
“I suppose given the size of the club and the division we are in, we should be aiming to do well,” Dyer said.
“But I think everybody is just looking to get a consistency of performance, build some results and see where we go from there.
“There are a lot of good teams in the division and it’s going to be a difficult challenge.
“Sandal will be tough at home, although they have lost two or three key players.”
l It is Ladies Day at Vale of Lune, whose North One West programme kicks off with a visit by Lancashire Trophy holders Burnage, whom they defeated twice last season.
Former Fylde flanker Evan Stewart has joined Vale’s coaching team and his ex-team-mate at Ansdell, winger Jordan Dorrington, is back at his old club, with both of them in the starting line-up.
l With Warren Spragg as their new head coach and scrum-half Greg Nicholls as skipper, Fylde’s National One campaign begins with a visit by Cambridge, who beat them twice last season.