Will Knight is braced for another tough year as Havant get set for their season opener against Wimbledon at Hooks Lane tomorrow (3pm).
But the director of rugby believes his squad will develop as the London one south season goes on.
He said: ‘I am under no illusions that this season will be any easier than last year,’ said Knight.
‘There are a number of good, well-financed clubs at this level and it is a challenge.
‘We are a club building on our own resources and are realistic about where we are in our development.
‘Last season’s squad was very much home grown.
‘That is something we are looking to continue.
‘We have some very good academy and colts players who will soon be ready to make the step up.
‘If we can bring our A game to the table and rise to the physical challenge we are capable of being a handful for anyone.’
The club will be captained by Joel Knight, fresh from his success with the Wales Students Rugby League World Cup squad.
He helped Wales reach the semi-finals during the summer where they lost to the eventual winners Australia.
And his impressive displays earned him a place in the team of the tournament.
The forwards will be bolstered by the arrival of experienced Royal Navy second row Niall Copeland, who has been based back in Portsmouth.
‘Niall Copeland is a good leader and could prove a big asset,’ said Knight.
Hooker Pete Austin also returns to Havant.
He has completed his basic army training and being posted at Thorney Island.
The former England under-18 international played for the first half of last season and showed what a big influence he can be.
Pete Living misses out as he is at army under-23 trials.
Veteran back-row forward Dylan Rubenheimer is the new club captain.
However, he will have to wait before getting in on the action.
An injured knee, picked up in a pre-season friendly, delays his involvement.
Wimbledon will present Havant with a tough opening test.
But Knight is hopeful his side can repeat last season’s home success with regular spots in the side up for grabs.
‘We beat them at home and lost to them away last season,’ said Knight.
‘They have recruited quite well – being in an area where they have access to a lot of quality players.
‘There is far greater competition for places in our squad this year.
‘I am hoping a few players will want to go and put out a marker.’
Havant: Reynolds, Duke, L Blackburn, J Knight, J Blackburn, Sweeney, Morris, Marks, Elsmore, Ward-Golden, Roberts, Copeland, Welton, Warren-West, Barfoot. Replacements: Powell, Neil, Benjamin.