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New Look Nottingham Ready for their Big Weekend

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 Haag.

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 the side.

"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 throughout pre-season."

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 commendable finish.

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 Rupert Cooper.

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 Savage.

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



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