Underbank Rangers will make the step up to amateur rugby league’s top flight boasting a squad ready for the National Conference Premier Division challenge.
Head coach Richard Knight has brought on board three Australians for Rangers, promoted from Division One last term, as they open their campaign with an away trip to Wath Brow Hornets.
Knight will have Australian imports stand off Terence Green and second rower Joey Bobbin in his starting line-up for the trip to Cumbria, while centre Brad Reid will arrive in England early next week.
“The three players we have signed have got to be the best overseas players we have ever had,” enthused Knight.
“They have all played Queensland or New South Wales Cup and also been on the fringes of the NRL, so it has to be the best recruitment we have ever made.”
The 28-year-old half back Green has been signed from the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles, a feeder club for Manly Sea Eagles, while Bobbin has been playing in NSW with Bombala Blue Heelers having had a spell in the USA with Jacksonville Axemen, and Reid is from the Gold Coast and has most recently featured in the three-quarters for Sunshine Coast.
The club are also welcoming back hooker Sam Rochford and centre Owen Restall who have been on tour in Australia with the England Lions Under 23s – and the two 22-year-olds will be in the side to travel to Cumbria.
“Sam and Owen will have gained invaluable experience from their time on tour,” said Knight.
“And we are ready for the start, we have been training three times a week and everyone has been putting the work in.”
The only negative for Knight is that he will be without club captain and influential full back Kris Harrop, who is struggling to shake off a persistent back injury and will miss the start of the season.
Underbank will certainly find out what the National Conference is all about as they start their campaign against one of the most consistently successful clubs in the competition in Wath Brow.
“It certainly doesn’t come much harder than playing Wath Brow away,” said Knight. “It has got to be the hardest trip of the season, but just before the fixtures came out I thought we might get them first.
“Going up to Cumbria in a way is the perfect trip to start the season.
“It will be a brilliant bonding experience, getting the lads away together, having some time together and facing a really tough game – for me for it to happen in round one is a bit of a bonus.”
Under Rangers (squad): Jacob Garside, Sam Ansell, Alex Chatterton, Owen Restall, Will England, Terence Green, Luke Pogson, Sam Rochford, Luke Roberts, Tom Stringer, Joey Bobbin, Jordan Williams, Danny Hirst, Mikey Holmes, Nathan Robinson, Tom Eidson, Tom England, Courtney Allette.