Clean slate feeling as Diss Rugby Club prepare for new season in London 2 North East
Captain John Bergin has revealed that Diss have adopted a ‘back to the drawing board’ approach ahead of the new rugby season getting under way tomorrow.
The Blues find themselves back in London 2 North East following a tough 2018/19 London 1 North campaign, one in which they finished bottom of the pile.
However, with Nick Greehnall stepping in to replace Dave Smith as head coach, there is a clean slate feeling at Mackenders heading into the opening game at home against Wanstead (3pm).
And Bergin, who is about to enter his sixth season as a Diss player, is hopeful that a fresh approach will lead to an upturn in fortunes.
“It was an incredibly tough season so we have gone back to the drawing board,” he said. “We have a new coach, a new gameplan and there is a great buzz around the place at the moment – everyone is pretty excited.
“We have been forward orientated recently but we have a good set of backs this season and we want them to show their talent.
“The strength is still there in the scrum and lineout, but we want to get the ball out wide and get the backs involved more.
“Nobody wants to be relegated, but now we have a bunch of games against other local teams and that is something to look forward to. We want to build some major confidence.”
In terms of a season target, Bergin believes that Diss should be aiming for the top six.
However, there is also more of a long-term plan being implemented at the club.
“The top six has to be seen as something realistic,” he added. “If we are good enough to go up this year then so be it, but there is a three-year plan in place to make sure we are ready by the end of that.
“We want to build a really good core and bring that spirit back to the club – that is one of the big aims for the season.
“The league is a lot more local and that is great for the fans but also the players because it means less travelling. Hopefully it will be a more enjoyable season.”
For the incoming Greehnall, he has inherited a side that got into the habit of losing last term.
They were beaten on a total of 25 occasions, winning just once as Diss ended up with just nine points to their name.
As a result, Greenhall has spent the summer working on the mental side of the game with the players as much as the playing side of things.
“We have worked really hard over the summer. There has been a good group of 25 each week and overall probably about 60 different players have attended the sessions,” he said.
“We wanted to help them to learn about how to train better, where they have to give it their full effort and full concentration.
“There has also been a lot of work done on the mental side of things. We have spoken a lot about pressure, how to deal with it and how to be mentally resilient.
“You need to regroup after suffering so many defeats and we have started to do that.
“There is still a little way to go in that process but we will be competitive from the start.”
Greenhall has retained a number of last season’s squad and has also recruited a few new faces, including Chris Kent from Sudbury and George Ainge, who came through the rugby pathway at Easton & Otley College.
More by this authorLiam Apicella