Sedgley Tigers kick off their new National Two North campaign this weekend with coach Steve Hazzelby saying the target this year is to top the division.

The Tigers start at home against Yorkshire rivals Otley (2.30pm) and Hazzelby has high hopes of improving on last year’s second-place finish after strengthening the squad ahead of the season.

He said: “The new season is about to start on Saturday with a home game against old Yorkshire rivals Otley.

“Having finished second last year to eventual winners Hull and missing out on promotion by just four points the ambition this year is to go out and win National Two North.

“Pre-season training has gone well with more than 40 players turning up every Tuesday and Thursday.”

Sedgley have also strengthened the squad with a number of new players notably hooker Adam Mallinson (pictured), back rowers George Bordhill and Chris Donnel, scrum-half Sam Stelmascek and centre Jake Maher.

Also returning from injury are senior players Beltus Nonleh, Max Ashcroft, Oscar Crowe, Danny Maher and Tom Ailes.

Hazzelby added: “We have played three friendlies and won them all.

“We beat Sandbach 69-7, Llandudno 33-24 and Scottish team Currie 17-12.

“A number of the new younger players have performed really well in these games including back row Tane Bentley, hooker Jake Rimmer, back row Seth Leach and winger Tom Hoad.

“Spirits within the team and club are high and we are hoping to play fast open rugby.

“The team will be led once again by Matt Riley, vice-captain Bob Birtwell and the very experienced back-room team.

“But we also need the fans’ continued support as always as it is really appreciated.”