Fitter, stronger and more in tune with the local community is the aim in 2016 for new Rochdale coach Alan Kilshaw.
Kilshaw joined the League 1 club in October following the departure of Ian Talbot. He has recently returned to the UK after three years coaching in northern Queensland.
Kilshaw has already implemented several changes since taking over at the Hornets.
Rochdale have partnered with Warrington for dual-registration and to access their training facilities, replacing their arrangement with St Helens.
The Hornets have been training at the Wolves’ University of Chester facility and Kilshaw has brought in a new assistant coaches, in the shape of Jason Viller, Dave Ramsbottom and Paul Berry, as well as new conditioner Ryan Gibney.
Gibney previously worked in union for World Rugby, with the national teams of Georgia and Sri Lanka, along with Warrington.
Kilshaw said his players have responded positively to the new changes, with the use of the Wolves’ indoor training facility a big plus.
“Ryan’s a world-class conditioner,” he said.
“They’ve been happy that it’s all been freshened up.
“It’s a good group. Most of them are young and enthusiastic. We try and make training really competitive.
“[At Padgate] the weather is not disruptive.”
Ten new players have arrived at Spotland including Harry Files from Salford, Corey Lee from Leigh, Samir Tahraoiu from Bradford, Jono Smith from North Wales and Lewis Galbraith and Ben Moores, both from Kilshaw’s former Australian club Sarina.
Rochdale have drawn Barrow in the iPro Cup and have organized friendlies against Salford on January 10, Swinton on Jnuary 24 and Coventry on February 7.
The Hornets finished in sixth place in League 1 in 2015.
Kilshaw said one of his goals is to have more locally-produced players in his squad and to strengthen the Hornets’ connection to the Rochdale community.
“We want to have more of a presence in Rochdale,” he said.
“It’s difficult with the football club in town. We want to have a core of local talent.
Rochdale are one of the oldest clubs in rugby league, as one of the original 22 clubs that formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895, and Kilshaw is keen to promote its proud heritage.
“Our main aim is to get more people playing rugby league in the town, whether that’s girls, tag, Under-7s,” he said.
“There’s a good program already in place and I’m looking to develop that.
“We want to be more active in the community. The club’s foundation is in its infancy but has made some big steps under the guidance of the foundation chair Neil Wood.
“The club has a great history and very passionate supporter base.
“We want to engage the next generation and create more history, whether that’s in the schools or in League 1, it’s a common goal.”