South Shields RFC begin their Durham & Northumberland 3 campaign tomorrow with the visit of Prudhoe and Stocksfield at their sister ground of Brinkburn CA (3pm).
Shields, now sponsored by the Cleadon Social Club, were relegated last term and will be looking to bounce straight back up at the first time of asking.
There has been big changes over the summer with the arrivals of two new coaches/players, Ross Radford and David Bains.
The playing department has also been bolstered with new arrivals with Stephen Waddle, Jon Breakingbury, Paul Bate and Micky Robinson all signing from Gateshead.
Jonni Manning has arrived from Blaydon, while youngsters Mark Tallintire, Adam Robinson, Daniel Simpson and James McGurk – products of the club’s successful Blades (U15 and U16s) side – have all signed.
Unattached Joe Gardner and Aaron John have also signed on for the season.
However, the club lost Mark Walker to North Shields RFC and Aaron Arkley to Newton Aycliffe RUFC.
Pre-season saw the club play five games in four weeks, with a Sunderland XV visiting Brinkburn and away trips to North Shields, Darlington, Ponteland and Mowden Park.
Tomorrow sees Prudhoe and Stocksfield the first visitors and Shields will be looking to hit the ground running with a solid performance.
Clayton Fox and Martin Bengston will face late fitness tests as both picked up knocks during pre-season, while Louis Kellett is ruled out. Marcus Colborne should be fit after recovering from a knee injury.
Jordan Wright will be available to captain the side, while George Richardson could come in for the missing Matthew Stephenson.
Alex Wylie, who has been outstanding throughout pre-season, is likely to start on the flank and could be joined by youngster Mark Tallintire.
Paul Bate could start at No2, providing he proves his fitness after picking up a calf injury during pre-season. Gareth Carey returns to the side, while Jonah McIntyre and Ian Arkley are also available.