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Billy ready to build on solid first season.

With the Knights squad truly at the business end of pre-season Billy McBryde brings us an update on progress up to this point.

After two months of training it’s almost time to put all the hard work into practice! The Knights head to Henley-in-Arden and Wasps Elite Performance and Innovation Centre on Friday for a live training day against the Premiership outfit as they build into next Saturday’s pre-season clash with Newcastle Falcons.

Talking ahead of the trip Billy states the side are in tip top condition. “Pre-season has gone really well; we are really fit.

“A few of the boys were talking earlier and saying that they didn’t think they’d ever been in a squad this fit before – all the fitness scores are fantastic, all our GPS and volume is through the roof really.

“Now it is tapering into rugby specific stuff, getting the ball in hands and being a bit smarter with our decision making and adding more structure to our sessions and treating them as we would a proper game.”

Having arrived at Castle Park in November 2020, the 25-year-old played a key role in the Knights third place finish last season.

With several mainstays of the squad moving last season and with a young and hungry squad, Billy says there is expectation on the lads still here from last season continue to drive standards but that he is relishing the challenge.  “We lost the likes of Chall, Hunts, Bomber, Charlie and Smithy who were an integral part of our campaign last year and there’s a lot of fresh meat and young lads but everyone has stepped up.

“The academy lads have stepped up and it’s been nice to have those boys in and pushing us throughout pre-season and brought some real enthusiasm to the squad.

“The boys that are here from last year and are obviously more familiar with the way in which we play so we have a responsibility to keep getting better and driving standards; there will be a lot of competition in the squad again this year.”

Due to ongoing restrictions the Knights squad are facing a reduced schedule of pre-season fixtures but Billy and the team expect the challenges of the next two weeks to leave them well placed to hit the ground running when the league begins on September 18th. “I think the plan on Friday is that in the morning we will split into units, the forwards will go through live set piece work and the backs will be running starter plays against a live defence.

“It’s going to be good for us to go against a defence that don’t know our plays and are obviously very high quality. It will also mean we have to adapt and react in defence and test our decision making on the spot.

“In the afternoon, I think the plan is to do forty minutes of pretty much a full live game scenario.

“It’s likely to be body in front and down for the first half and then live contact for the second half which should hopefully sharpen us up for Newcastle the week after which is a full 80-minute game.

“The next two weeks will be a big test for us to see how far we’ve come and what bits we need to work on ready for September 18thversus Cov. Newcastle & Wasps are two very good & experienced Premiership sides and as a player you like to test yourself against these boys and make your mark.

“Cov away first up is going to be huge, it was very close last year and we got a bit lucky to get the win so they’ll be raring to get one over on us this season but we cant wait. We’re chomping at the bit to get out there on the paddock and hopefully be competing towards the top of the table again.

“It is about starting well for us, the first block of games are crucial but there’s not doubt that when the Cov game roles round we will be ready and up for it.”

Don’t forget 2021/22 Season Ticket are now on sale with adult prices starting at just £155, email mcasey@castle-park.co.ukfor more information.

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