Doncaster boss Richard Horne says the two relegated clubs, Bradford and Oldham, will only add to a very tough League One competition in 2018.
The Dons are part of a group of perhaps more than half a dozen teams that will have their eyes on promotion to the Championship, along with the two bookies’ favourites to bounce straight back up.
Horne said: “It’s a very tough competition. Everyone has strengthened and then with Bradford and Oldham coming down, they are two very strong teams and very physical, it’s going to be an interesting year.
“There won’t be as much travelling as we don’t have Toronto! But it is what it is. There are some areas where rugby league is being developed and then some great historical areas like the Cumbrian teams, and going up there is always tough.
“It’s been great being a coach so far. It’s got its challenges and up to now it’s gone well, so I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.”
Horne is starting his first full season as Dons coach after taking charge last June following the departure of Gary Thornton.
His Hull connection has enabled no fewer than five new signings at the Keepmoat Stadium, including Jez Litten and Ross Osbourne, while ex-Super League prop Ryan Boyle has also joined from Halifax.
Another interesting signing is that of ex-Castleford and Wakefield winger Richard Owen.
Last season, after finishing fifth in the first phase of the season, the Dons would slip to sixth in the final standings missing out on a play-off place.
They get their 2018 campaign underway on Sunday at home to Coventry Bears.