Whitehaven player-coach Carl Forster has signalled his intentions for next season with pushing for promotion the goal.
The 24-year-old, who was part of a quartet of players that took temporary charge of the Cumbrian club at the end of last season following James Coyle’s departure, insisted the aim will be to make the play-offs.
“With Toronto [Wolfpack] being in the league, no disrespect to us or anyone else – they are a full-time team spending a lot more money than anyone else so they should be winning the league,” he told Love Rugby League.
“We will be there pushing them every bit of the way but as long as we make the play-offs and put ourselves within a massive shout of promotion then I don’t think you can ask for much more.
“When you go into play-off rugby it is anyone’s game from there.”
Forster hopes Haven’s stay in League 1 is a brief one.
“We’re going straight to get back up,” he said.
“We’re not here for a three-year plan and building a team to do well and then get promoted in the next couple of years.
“We’ll give it our best shot to do it in 12 months. If it doesn’t happen in 12 months then we’ll review it and go again next year.”
Forster admitted there were a combination of factors that led to relegation from the Championship last season.
“They had quite a small squad and picked up a lot of injuries,” he said.
“The young lads got chucked in at the deep end. They had to make a few loan signings and dual-reg signings that weren’t there in pre-season to set the foundations up for the year.
“I do think they had a lot of bad luck but once you lose three or four on the bounce it does become hard to get out of that cycle.”
The forward insisted he wants to bring an offensive style to the club.
“That’s how I have always wanted to play as a player,” Forster said.
“Coming through the ranks at St Helens that’s what it was all about really.
“Playing rugby under fatigue and how quickly you could play and outplaying teams really. That is the root we’re going to go down.
“Defence wins games but if you can outscore the opposition and entertain the fans at the same time then it’s ideal.”
Whilst Forster has experienced a some joy since taking over, he also admitted feeling anxious about people’s expectations for Haven.
“Since I got the job I have been stressing all the time but I have enjoyed every day as well,” he said.
“I am already nervous for the season coming up because I think there is going to be a lot of pressure with the squad that we’re building to achieve promotion.”
After a few weeks in temporary charge, Forster was glad when he was finally installed as a more permanent fixture at the club.
He said it was a relief to have an experienced assistant in Tony Stuart.
“The last six weeks we took over it did work to a certain extent but we obviously knew it was a temporary thing,” Forster said.
“I have also got a good number two in Tony Stuart so come match days I will be able to focus solely on the playing side of things. I will be relying on Tony a lot for his knowledge and experience.”
Forster is the youngest player-coach in the professional game but this is a prospect which doesn’t faze him one bit.
“I will take it in my stride,” he said.
“I have got nothing to lose.
“The club has given me a lot to work with in terms of budgets – they have backed me to the hills when it comes down to signing players and what I want in training.
“I’ll have no excuses if it works or it doesn’t work. I am not really thinking about the age thing at the minute.
“I am going to give it my best shot and we’ll go from there.”
The difference in physicality will be the main challenge in League 1, according to Forster.
“I think the physicality in this league is massive,” he said.
“What it does lack in a little bit of pace compared with the Championship it makes up for with physicality.
“I do believe you have got a lot of Championship-standard games in that league.
“The likes of Workington, Barrow and York are all going to be Championship-standard games.”
In terms of recruitment, Forster is happy to have kept the same nucleus of the squad which was present at the Recreation Ground last season.
“We have kept a core of the team from last year and with the additions that we’re making at the minute, we are looking very strong,” he said.
“A lot of players like Jessie Joe Parker, Elliott Miller and Connor Halliday all signed two-year deals last season.