Burnell predicts a big season ahead
Gathering his squad about him as pre-season training gets underway this week, Pontypridd RFC Head Coach Justin Burnell predicts a big Premiership campaign ahead.
The WRU’s decision to restructure the semi-professional tier of the game, with relegation from the Premiership introduced prior to a proposed cut from sixteen clubs to twelve, will have huge implications for all involved.
“The league next season will be far more competitive with so much at stake” said Burnell. “We are looking potentially at one of the best campaigns yet at this level. It will be a battle for self preservation with no easy games and no room for complacency.”
Pontypridd finished a creditable third in the table last season, and Burnell is looking to consolidate and to improve on that status.
“Irrespective of the changes being made by the WRU, we have to look at our own sustainability as a club. With hindsight we could have improved on our third place finish last season and we can learn from the experience gained. It will be a battle for survival next season but our aim is higher than that, to be competitive at the top end of the table, to push to be in the top four and to be challenging for honours.”
In preparing for the crucial campaign to come Justin Burnell is building an extended squad, the bulk of which will be up and coming young talent processed through Coleg y Cymoedd and the University of South Wales and from neighbouring lower league clubs.
“We work within the WRU structures and are supportive of them but we also need our own structure in place to produce our own talent” said Burnell.
“There is always a need to freshen up the squad, to keep moving forward. Some players have left, with our respect for the hard work they put in, and we have retained and added some key experience. Our strategy is to bring through the youngsters, to work with them and to improve them to perform at Premiership level.
“If we can process six to eight new players who can make the grade next season in our match-day twenty-three, then we will have succeeded in our aim and should prove to be a competitive force in the league.”