New Portsmouth coaches Sid Street and Mike Hoban jump straight into the deep end after being handed a difficult London two south west opener at Tottonians.
Street and Hoban have taken over from the long-serving Ian Chandler who is taking a year off to develop his own coaching skills.
It is a big challenge for the pair who are looking for a big improvement on last season’s disappointing league campaign.
After being relegated the previous season, the city club had high hopes of bouncing straight back up.
That never happened and a big contributory factor was a poor start, which is something Hoban is hoping to avoid.
‘We fell below expectations last season and maybe were a bit naive thinking that we could be promoted,’ said Hoban.
‘Some of the players learned the hard way just how competitive this league is.
‘There is not a lot of difference between the teams at the top and the bottom.
‘I think we have a better perspective now about where we are and what we need to do to get where we want to be.’
Portsmouth have lost two of last season’s front row, including try-scoring prop Dan Sargeant – 27 tries – who is playing National League rugby at Worthing.
He will be missed, but Hoban is pleased with a number of new recruits who arrived at Rugby Camp during the summer.
They include full-back Sam Harrison, a Durham University student on placement in the area, and scrum-half-prospect Bobby Owen from Trojans.
Lee Chandler has moved from centre to outside half and did well in that position in pre-season.
‘Tottonians will be tough and, being a local derby, will make that bit more tougher again,’ said Hoban.
‘Both teams won their home games last season and I am expecting it to be a competitive affair.
‘We feel we have prepared well and come through the summer relatively unscathed.
‘Now we have to go out and show that we are up to the challenge.
‘It is a journey for us and we know that a lot of hard work is needed to get us to where we want to be.
‘The initial aim is to improve on last season.’