Preview: Cents ready for first season in East League

Action from Cents' pre-season match with the RAF. Picture: Daryl Brown

Action from Cents' pre-season match with the RAF. Picture: Daryl Brown - Credit: Archant

Centurions head coach Andy Lake believes they could be competing for a top four spot in their first season in the Eastern Premier League.

Dan Hartley. Picture: Daryl Brown

Dan Hartley. Picture: Daryl Brown - Credit: Archant

The Cents’ season begins on Saturday with a trip to Hitchin to take on the North Herts Crusaders.

The Toulmin Drive-based side moved across from the London League for this season and Lake insists his side can push for a play-off spot.

“Saturday will come down to who we put out on the day and who they put out,” he said when asked about their clash with the Crusaders. “Either way, it should be an exciting game; I think we’re contenders for the play-offs this season, and they are too.

“I think it will be Bedford Tigers, St Ives Roosters, North Herts Crusaders and us vying for top four spots.”

There is plenty of optimism around the Cents camp heading into the season, which stems from three good pre-season outings, including a nines festival in Southend, new recruits and the prospect of a lot more rugby.

“In the London League we ended up playing some teams four times so it was a little repetitive,” explained Lake. “We’ll get a minimum of 10 or 11 games this season and it could be as many as 20 with cup competitions and the play-offs.

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“That’s why we moved across. The East League has well established clubs with second teams so we can get first and second grade rugby league for our players.”

He added: “We’ve got plenty of returning players, two New Zealand players and four or five guys who haven’t played rugby league before. There are about 40 players in total, which is ideal because we’re running two competitive teams.”

For Lake, it will be his first full season as head coach. A former Cents player, he was forced to quit the game after a severe knee injury.

“I’m exciting for the start of the season. It’s an exciting prospect but it’s not all plain sailing and stress free,” he joked. “It’s a change of approach to my sport; I’m delivering results for other people and developing individual players.”