Horsham head coach Nick Stocker has revealed Horsham are one of the sides with promotion aspirations in London 2 South East – although he is expecting an ‘ultra competitive’ league.
There have been a number of additions at Hammerpond Road over the summer with both on and off-field improvements.
A brand-new artificial grass pitch has been installed at the club over the summer and was officially opened during a club fun-day on Saturday.
The floodlight all-weather surface has heightened the quality of the Green and Whites’ pre-season campaign and set them in good stead for their season opener away to Maidstone on Saturday.
The club have added to their ranks with the experienced Jamie Redmayne, re-joining his childhood club after over 200 appearances with Worthing Raiders, alongside his ex-Worthing team-mates Christian Squire, Chris Double and Jake Fisher.
Joe Reid has joined from Colchester and along with former colt Josh Earle and Surrey under-20 prop Ted Powell.
In the backs, Declan Nwachukwu is back from university, while stepping up from last year’s colts are impressive half-backs Aaron Lindfield and Joe Blake along with Marcus Condon.
Richard Tredgett will captain the side and Stocker said: “Fortunately, recruitment has gone extremely well. With several players returning from university, players stepping up from the incredibly successful colts team of 2018 and players joining from other regional clubs, we now have true competition for places.
“The season ahead will be a tough one, with three teams relegated from London 1 all contributing to an ultra-competitive league. These teams will no doubt seek an immediate return to London 1 South as will the likes of Charlton Park, Haywards Heath, Beckenham and Dover who all have recent London 1 experience.
“There are at least eight teams who fancy their chances at promotion and Horsham are no different with our own aspirations to progress as a club. It is without doubt the most competitive the league has been since 2015 and the squad depth will undoubtedly be tested.”
The coaching team has been retained from last season with former London Irish, Worthing and East Grinstead prop Adam Halsey retained as forwards coach and Richard Bell as attack coach complemented by defence coach Johnny Porter.
Former club captain Barry Wright has assumed the role of team manager and stepping in to the role of Lions manager is former colts coach Tony Jones.
The Lions also have a target to win their respective league and they will be captained by club stalwart Andy Carvell.
The colts will also be welcomed into the senior section and some junior players will make the transition and play senior rugby with the Baa Baas (3rd team) who will be looking to retain their Sussex Cup and compete in the league.
Saturday saw an official opening and all-day festival at the club with the mini, junior, touch and girls’ sections all playing on the new pitch as well as the 1st XI taking on London Exiles in a friendly.