AFTER the euphoria of the success at Twickenham in lifting the RFU National Vase last May, Old Otliensians are preparing for the new season.

Kris Stafford and his coaching team have buckled down to the task of preparing the players for the step-up into Yorkshire Two.

“The Football World Cup has meant pre-season has got off to a slower start than the coaching team would have liked," said Stafford.

"However, now that’s done and dusted we can refocus the lads ready for what promises to be a challenging season in Yorkshire Two.

"This will be a new experience for the players and I’m confident that throughout August we can prepare fully to be able to compete against some good sides.

"We are lucky to travel to Morley over pre-season and the players can learn from some North Premier League players and receive some high-level coaching from their head coach, former Wales fly half, Colin Stephens."

All last season’s squad of players should be available except for veteran No.8 Rob Arbuckle who has finally hung up his boots after 23 years playing with the first team.

One major setback has been a cruciate knee ligament injury to influential full back and vice-captain Alex Murphy. He is awaiting an operation which means he could be out for the season.

New faces so far include scrum half James Bagnall from Ilkley, Ryan Fraser-Ro from West Park Leeds and Matthew Peattie from Prince Henry's Grammar School.

Back from injury are Will Prest and Dougie Elgar, the former Prince Henry's captain.

Stafford's coaching team also shows a key change. He said: “Nick Hyde is replacing Carl Patterson as backs coach.

"He has a wealth of coaching experience from working at Harlequins Academy, Huddersfield RUFC and the University of Leeds.

"I am confident he will build on the foundations laid by Carl and we are grateful to Carl for the work he has put in last season.”

“We are lucky we laid a lot of the foundations for our attacking and defensive patterns last season. This pre-season is all about fine tuning a few things really.

"We’ve added a few extra elements to both the attack and defensive principles and I’m sure these will allow us to hit the ground running in Yorkshire Two.

"I am looking forward to the season starting, and confident that providing we stay injury free, we will have another successful season as we step up to Yorkshire Two.”

Otliensians are playing their first warm-up game at Keighley tonight before travelling to Morley next Thursday.

The final pre-season encounter is at home to Baildon on August 23.

Otliensians say that new players are welcome and should contact Kris Stafford on 07854 878611.