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Coaches will set the standards says Canterbury's head of rugby Andy Pratt

By Alex Hoad

On the eve of Canterbury Rugby Club’s National League kick-off, head of rugby Andy Pratt has left it to his players to set their targets for the new campaign.

After flirting with the top six in National 2 South for much of the season, the city club had to settle for eighth after 30 games, one place and six points behind Cinderford, who visit the Marine Travel Ground on Saturday (3pm).

Pratt said: “We put it on the players to set the target this year. The coaches can then set the standards we think that will take to achieve.

Andy Pratt Picture Tony Flashman

Andy Pratt Picture: Tony Flashman

“I’m not saying what it is but it is certainly challenging and would mean improving on last year, which we were pleased with after the previous two seasons.

“I’m confident we can challenge anyone in this league on our day, although that’s not to disrespect a league full of quality clubs, players and coaches.”

The city club finished last season with a 33-30 win at home to the same opponents, while they went down 14-7 on the road in Gloucestershire in their opening game of the season.

Pratt said: “They are likely to have recruited well. They came down last year after years in National 1 and found their feet at this level, ready to try and launch themselves back up the leagues. They are really a National 1 tier club.

“I believe they have re-established their link with Gloucester too, so they might be able to call on players from that. We’re in no doubt this is going to be a tough game.”

He added: “Saying that, we’ve got a lot of guys back who we were missing at the back end of last year, we have added a few and still looking to bring in another couple.

“We are mostly fit and healthy and have competition for places, which is a great problem for me to have. We look to be in good shape, coming into another long, hard season.

“Overall, I’m pleased with how our pre-season has gone. We had a good win against Westcombe Park at the weekend. They were short of a few players but so were we.

“It was a game I’d wanted to win because although we had put in two good performances against Blackheath and Bishop’s Stortford in the previous two games, we’d been on the wrong end of the result. We stepped up.”

Back-row man Max Cantwell will captain the side this season, while player-coach Matt Corker and second-row Louis Whetton are set for their debuts, although Alex Wake-Smith and Jamie Stevens are sidelined with injury.

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