Nottingham Rugby are in good shape and are ready to take on
Leeds Carnegie on Saturday as preparations for a challenging
Championship campaign come to an end, says Head Coach Martin
The two sides will play at Doncaster's Castle Park, a neutral
venue, on Saturday and Haag believes his players are ready to hit
the ground running after a tough pre-season.
He said: "We've had a good 12 weeks. We started off with the
conditioning side of things and worked really hard purely on that
so we are up to the level where we want to be.
"It seems to have been a long pre-season, but once we get
playing matches it tends to fly by. So the last few weeks have
flown by and we're in good shape and looking forward to Leeds."
Haag can take pride from finishing second in the Championship
last season, but after a number of ins and outs he recognises the
new challenge his team faces this season.
"There are no easy games in this league. Leeds are a very solid
and settled team and did incredibly well last year and will be
looking to build on that, so it will be a big challenge for us.
"We have our own goals and our own idea of how we want to play
the game and we know that when we play how we want to we can do it
well and it works."
The number of changes in personnel will give the Green &
Whites a fresh look for the coming season and Haag feels the new
recruits have made a comfortable transition.
"The new players have done great. They are the perfect
characters for this team; they blend in and add to what we already
had before. We're looking forward to those stamping their mark on
"A number of them are relatively unknown, particularly in the
Championship, so it's a great opportunity for them to go out, show
off their good skills and the good play they've shown so far
The Championship will also start with a new look this year, with
all 12 Championship clubs playing double-headers at three venues
for the newly introduced Greene King IPA Big Rugby Weekend.
But the Head Coach won't let the introduction of the Big Weekend
distract the team as they look to build on last season's
He said: "It's obviously strange being at Donny [Doncaster], a
neutral venue, but Leeds were a top four club, as we were last
year, and our challenge is to maintain that upward trend and make
sure we try and do it again this year."
Nottingham's four new signings all make the starting line-up for
the first match of the season. Campese Ma'afu and Jon Vickers
start in the front row alongside Michael Holford, while Neilus
Keogh and Dan Montagu pack down in the second row.
Captain Brent Wilson is joined in the back row by Alex Shaw and
New Fly Half Matthew Jarvis looks to continue developing his
understanding with Sean Romans at half back with Joe Munro and
George Catchpole outside them in the Centres.
The back three is made up of Ryan Hough, Ed Styles and Andrew
Nottingham Rugby team to face Leeds Carnegie:
15) Andrew Savage
14) Ed Styles
13) George Catchpole
12) Joe Munro
11) Ryan Hough
10) Matthew Jarvis
9) Sean Romans
1) Campese Ma'afu
2) Jon Vickers
3) Michael Holford
4) Neilus Keogh
5) Dan Montagu
6) Rupert Cooper
7) Brent Wilson (c)
8) Alex Shaw
16) Ryan Bower
17) Ollie Taylor
18) Harry Williams
19) Harry Wells
20) Joe Burton
21) Harrison Lee-Everton
22) Rory Lynn