The SRL Super 8 season kicks off tomorrow with reigning champions Leeds Met head coach Paul Fletcher vowing “we won’t relinquish our crown without a fight”.
Leeds – who saw off Loughborough in last season’s Grand Final – will be looking to keep hold of the title they won in February, although Fletcher knows that it will be tough ask for his side.
“We’re really looking forward to the season and I hope that it’ll be a productive one for us,” said Fletcher.
“I see this very much as a re-building season for us, we’ve lost 11 players from last year’s squad so it will certainly be interesting.
“Fortunately I can still call on and players like Mark Wool, Jimmy Kleinhorst and Christian Duncan who recently helped Great Britain win the Academic Ashes in Australia, so these guys will be crucial in helping the new players fit in.”
The champions begin their title defence with a home game against Northumbria at Headingley Carnegie and the world famous venue is set to stage the sides opening two home games this season.
“It’s great that we can play at Headingley,” added Fletcher.
“It’s a superb venue and the players are chuffed that they can get to play at such a famous stadium.
“Northumbria will be a huge test in our first game, Andy Kelly is a great coach and he’s sure to have them well prepared. We probably couldn’t ask for a tougher test in our first game and it won’t get any easier as there are plenty of strong sides in this season’s competition.”
The other opening games of the Super 8 competition see Gloucester head to the North West to face UCLAN, Hull play host to Edge Hill and St Marys travel from their Twickenham base to the midlands where Loughborough will be waiting.
A big weekend of SRL action also sees the start of the BUCS season with 56 teams kicking off in the Championship, Trophy and Shield competitions.
The new season sees several new teams with the University of Central Lancashire, Middlesex University and two South West outfits in Bath University and the University of West England all taking to the field for the first time.
Opening weekend fixtures – Wednesday 19 October
Leeds Met v Northumbria
UCLAN v Gloucester
Hull v Edge Hill
Loughborough v St Marys
For all the latest news on Student Rugby League visit http://www.studentrl.com/