Nottingham Rugby Head Coach, Neil Fowkes, says his squad are in good shape as they gear up for the first game of the season against Yorkshire Carnegie on Friday 20th September.

The Green ‘N’ Whites have had no pre-season fixtures this year, despite having two games scheduled earlier in the year but the 2019 World Cup has hampered plans.

“It seems to have been a really long pre-season this year. Obviously with the World Cup it pushes the first fixture back to the 20th September against Yorkshire. The boys have been in a really long time and are in good shape, they’ve been working hard since June and they’re looking good. They’re moving quick, moving well and hopefully powerfully too,” said Fowkes.

He added: “We had some pre-season fixtures arranged for August but our feeling was that we didn’t want to put the boys out there too early, especially with a squad of our size so we decided to move those pre-season friendlies into the cup period.

“Starting with a cup game gives us the opportunity to use those cup games as meaningful fixtures and get the boys up-to-speed on the field. We’ve got some internal training against some of the Premiership teams as well which will give us a good hit out physically – we’ve got one of those next week – and then in to Yorkshire Carnegie as our first game as the Green and Whites.”

Nottingham strengthened their squad in the summer with a vast amount of signings in the likes of James Connolly, Tom Benjamin, Alex Dolly and Tom Hill to name a few, and Head Coach Neil Fowkes is pleased with how they’ve settled in at The Bay.

He said: “The new players have settled in really well. This is a group that have always been together and work hard on that side of things as much as they do on the pitch so they’ve settled in really well and are showing what they can do.

“I think we’ve got a really exciting group of young players again and lots of good consistency from last year but some good exciting boys coming in. There’s six lads coming in from the University this year which is nice to keep that partnership going with Nottingham Trent University and they’re showing up really well as well so it’s pleasing so far but the test will come on September 20th against Yorkshire when we see them in that first hit-out.”

Fowkes also has his eye on a handful of players to bolster his squad in the form of dual-registration. He also praised fly-half Shane O’Leary as he made the Canadian World Cup squad.

“We’ve got a pool of around six or seven dual-registered players who will come to us throughout the season. Some of those guys will come in at the start of the season and give us good cover whilst Shane O’Leary is away at World Cup.

“I can’t elaborate on the names yet because of our relationship with those clubs, but we will have some guys that come in to bolster the squad.

“It’s fantastic for Shane to get in to the Canada World Cup squad, what a fantastic achievement that is for him and hopefully he does really well and comes back firing.”