Champions Fylde looking ahead

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THE hard work of preparing for life in National One is already well under way for champions Fylde RFC.

The Woodlands club sealed the National Two North crown with Saturday’s 118-0 home hammering of Manchester.

But chairman Michael Brennand and coach Mark Nelson confirmed that the build-up to next season has already begun.

Brennand said: “Mark has had his book out and we have contacted one or two players.

“I hope we retain all the existing squad, but I think we will need more strength in depth.”

“We lost certain players this season because we were not prepared to pay the money to keep them, but we made one or two key signings, which were down to Mark Nelson knowing the right players to bring in.”

Nelson says the big build-up to 2011/12 begins on Saturday, when Fylde play their penultimate league match at relegated Rugby Lions, to be followed a week later by the last match of the season at home to Hull Ionians, when the championship trophy will be presented.

Nelson said: “We want to finish the season on a high. Fylde have had success in the past, but this has got us back to where we need to be and we have to move forward as a club. We have to consolidate now and keep coming forward.”

Fylde have made one massive signing for 2011-12 by retaining the services of Brian Ashton, with the new title of technical director.

The former England coach has made a massive impact in his role as coaching consultant, and admits to being surprised by how well the squad adapted to his free-flowing brand of rugby. Ashton said: “I didn’t think they would challenge themselves to play the type of rugby we are playing now.

“They were quite happy to play the game more or less how it is played everywhere else in the country – in a traditional way, with set-pieces, kicks for possession and good defence.

“But all credit to them – they have improved both individually and collectively.

It remains unclear whether Jason Robinson will be part of Fylde’s plans for next season.

Robinson, who will be 37 by the time next season gets under way, said: “The club have not been back to me with anything as yet, so we will just wait and see.

“I can only make a decision when an offer is made.

“The club probably did not expect itself to be in this position, so there is a lot of stuff they have to deal with, signing players and making adjustments for life in National One.