ILKLEY open the season against Harrogate this Saturday with a number of changes to their squad.

"Every time at the back end of the season, naturally you're going to lose a few players, said Ilkley head of rugby Rhys Morgan. "Guys try to push themselves to further their careers.

"We've lost a few boys from last year's team, but you've always got to keep adding new players to your squad.

Amongst the players who will not be at Ilkley this season are last year's captain Elliot Morgan who has joined Otley, Ben Waddington who has joined Rotherham, Max McKay who has retired, Pat Power who has taken a sabbatical for work reasons, and Billy Nichols and Matt Burke, who have both gone off to university.

"We're trying to coax Max out of retirement," said Morgan. "He's too young to retire. But rugby at our level is demanding, particularly with work and family life commitments. Training on Tuesdays and Thursdays and playing on Saturday asks a lot from players.

Morgan also wished his son and former captain, Elliot Morgan, well in his move to Otley.

"Elliot stayed with us when a lot of his friends and brother had left. This is a good move for him. He'll be playing a higher grade of rugby and getting paid for it."

And so coming in at skipper for Ilkley this season will be Joe Lowes, who had an excellent season at the club last year.

Ilkley also has three new signings from West Park Leeds in the form of Callum Smithson, Harry Harrison and Tom Dickinson.

Also signing on at the club are Woodgrove Grove youngsters, second row Eddie King and fly half Matty Sheard, who are both just 18 years old.

Centre Joe Hawdon is joining Ilkley from Huddersfield University and Tom Stanley is joining from Baildon.

"It's always disappointing when you lose a few players, but's we're working hard at bringing in new faces too."

In addition to signing new players, Morgan is keen to bring along several Ilkley youngsters.

He is looking forward to the development of young players like George Kapur, Archie Elgood, Alec Graham and Callum Graham.

Morgan also said that new head coach Steve Boden has been busy "reshaping our attack and defence to be ready for our first game against Harrogate", who Ilkley will host at Stacks Fields this Saturday.

"It'll be a cracking start to the season, said Morgan. "They're always a difficult opponent, and they were unlucky to miss out on second spot and promotion last season."

Going into the game Ilkley will be without Struan Connor and Luke Pearson due to injury and Eddie Brown and Ricky Palacio, who have yet to finish the cricket season.

One of the players who will be returning is JH Johnson, who will be playing his 10th season at Ilkley.

"JH has a lot of experience and there are not many positions he can't play. Without guys like that in the team, you would be in a mess."