WHITECRAIGS rugby club have stepped outside their comfort zone in an attempt to transform their fortunes for next season.
Mark Senter, the man who has taken it upon himself to raise the popularity of rugby league in Glasgow, hopes to bring some of his expertise from the other code to West Lodge.
Mark, the founder of rugby league’s Easterhouse Panthers and a former Falrkirk rugby union coach, told ExtraSport: “I think union players can learn an awful lot from rugby league. The skill level is often much higher with less specialist positions.
“I am putting a big focus on handling and running lines during out training sessions, with an aim to raising their skills to the same standard as their rugby league standards.
“My sessions will be short, sharp and intense, which will improve the fitness and conditioning of every member of the squad.
“I hope that will give us a big advantage going into the season.”
The coach with an army background has scheduled a tough pre-season schedule for the team; three training sessions a week, team bonding fitness bootcamps and a taxing fixture list which includes games against Kilmarnock, Stewarts Melville and a 15-a-side tournament at Lasswade.
The new coach, who also acts as Scotland’s rugby league Development Manager, is being realistic for his goals for next season.
He added: “It’s a tough league and we are not aiming to win it this year. I have a four year plan and we really want to build something.
“Last time the team went up to Premier two, as it was known then, they were not ready. The team has a lot of talent but it has some holes.
“My goal isto mould a squad that is strong throughout and is ready to climb the leagues.
“I don’t have any money to spend, but I knew that coming in. I would rather build a team around people that choose to play here.
“Of course it’s hard to attract players, so many are looking for money at this level, but I am encouraged and impressed by the enthusiasm from the players shown so far.
“I will work with the board to find ways to bring new players in.”
Stuart Henderson, the club’s former scrum half and captain, will step into a coaching role to assist Mark.
Their championship A campaign opens with a visit to Hamilton on August 24.
The first of two southside league derbies this year takes place on October 12, when Craigs face Cartha.