JERSEY RFC’S journey in the national league system starts on Saturday, at home to Havant II, following a flawless pre-season.
Myles Landick’s amateur side enjoyed success over level-five opposition Oxford Quins, prior to a comprehensive victory over Norwich RFC – who play in level six, one step above the Island side.
However, the former Jersey Red admitted that ‘it’s hard to know what to expect’ as the fledgling side get ready for their first taste of competitive rugby since the separation from the professional arm of the club.
He said: ‘We are very much going in blind, as we board the national league system.
‘Both our pre-season wins came over opposition at higher levels than ourselves, but even so we don’t know anything about our league opposition.’
Venturing into uncharted territory, Landick feels the inclusion of former Jersey Reds Jack Macfarlane and Roy Godfrey will be a massive help to the squad.
‘They have a wealth of experience behind them playing championship rugby and provide the younger squad members with an extra couple of leaders.
‘I haven’t played rugby at that level for a long time, so they have more of an idea of everything that is current.’
One player who is itching to play league rugby is captain Tim Corson.
A fisherman by trade, he was a central figure to the amateur side’s miracle Siam Cup success over old foes Guernsey.
He said: ‘I think we are just all really excited to have structure to our games.
‘Last year was very difficult for the lads to stay motivated with several teams pulling out at the last minute. We now have 22 competitive fixtures to look forward to, where every game matters and points are on the line for the first time.
The Caesarean side will face a very different proposition to start this season, trading infrequent matches for the other end of the spectrum with 11 consecutive match-day weekends.
Flanker Corson highlighted how imperative squad depth will be this season for his side.
‘It will certainly feel very different. Match-day squads are limited to 18, which allows only three bench players.
‘We will need versatile replacements, who can fulfil a number of roles and the squads from game to game will change as and when players pick up niggles.
‘It will all be a learning experience, but we all believe we can get promoted and that will be the aim for us during the season.
‘We proved in pre-season that we can fight and beat teams in steps above us and I think with a run of competitive games, we will continue to grow stronger.
‘What we have here is a brilliant opportunity to emulate what Mylo [Landick] and the Reds did years ago and hopefully some of the young team members are inspired by that.’
Only four teams have currently played in Counties 1 Hampshire – London & SE Division, with Gosport & Fareham and Eastleigh enjoying bonus-point wins to sit atop the tree on five points.
The match at St Peter gets underway at 1.30pm.
Jersey RFC tentative squad to face Havant II (1-15): Joe Ridgeway, Evan Whitson, Ewan Davies, James Guyatt, Euan Spencer, Jack Macfarlane, Tim Corson (c), George Willmott, Max Harrington, Dan Butler-Hawkes, Dylan stocks, Michael Harman, Dom Mayo, Mark Boarer, Charlie Hubert. Replacements: Roy Godfrey, Andrew Pitcher, Liam Rhodes.