Ashley: Gosport are ready to make the jump

Mark Pollard and Tim Snowden. Picture: Sarah Standing
Mark Pollard and Tim Snowden. Picture: Sarah Standing
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Scott Ashley is hoping Gosport & Fareham have learned a few lessons as they make their return to London one south.

The club will play their first three matches of the season at home, starting with tomorrow’s opener against Hove (3pm).

Gosport are hosting the game because the Sussex club are unable to play the match on their own ground.

It gives them a good opportunity to make a strong start to the season.

Two seasons ago, Gosport were relegated from London one south but have earned another crack at the level.

Director of rugby Ashley believes the club are better equipped this time.

He still expects it to be a tough task but feels his side cane make an impact.

Ashley said: ‘Pre-season has gone well and I think we are in a better position than last time.

‘We have a better idea of what we are coming into and there hasn’t been the massive disruption of last time.

‘A couple of players have come back and we are about to bring in a few new recruits.

‘Hopefully we have learned a few lessons from our experience the last time we came up.’

There has been a reshuffle at the club, with Ashley taking on the director of rugby role and Neil McRoberts becoming head coach.

The coaching team also includes Chris Thompson, who will take the forwards.

Gosport are determined to build on the success of last season, when they secured promotion via the play-offs.

Centre Sam Foster is back with the club, while former captain Tim Snowden returns at hooker after injury.

Second-row forward Mark Pollard will be another key addition to the squad as he is back from his navy commitments.

Matt Smith will captain the side again and Ashley believes Gosport have got a good spine, with experienced players in key positions.

‘We have gone to having one senior squad rather than a separate first and second team,’ said Scott.

‘That should help us with the continuity of the younger players coming through.

‘We like to think that we are one united club.

‘The older, wiser heads should give us plenty of leadership on the field.

‘As a team, last season, we showed that we won’t back down and possess a good ability to turn defence into attack.

‘It is going to be one heck of a season and it would be nice to get off to a good start.

‘It is a massive jump and it starts against Hove.’