Bedford Blues director of rugby Mike Rayer is hoping his new players hit the ground running when they visit Nottingham on Friday night in the first match of the new Greene King IPA Championship.
Bedford are expected to hand a number of debuts to players who joined over the summer, and Rayer said: “It has been a challenge to gel all the new players together but we’re getting there.
“All the players have showed good attitude in wanting to work hard, and that can only be a good thing.
“We have concentrated on different parts of our game and they’re slowly coming together. It may be a long term process to see that happen but we’re wanting to get off to a good start and gain a bit of momentum early on.”
Bedford’s only injury concern for Friday’s clash is new signing Justin Blanchett, with the back row forward injuring his ankle during Friday’s 47-3 defeat to Saracens.
Rayer said: “Other than Blanchett, we are relatively unscathed considering the physicality and size of what we faced on Friday and it could have been a bit of a car crash, but luckily we got through the match with pretty good health.”
Bedford’s last visit to Nottingham was a 26-24 defeat in November, when a last minute kick from Matthew Jarvis prevented the Blues from recording a win, and Rayer is expecting another tough match.
“Nottingham have always had a very good pack of forwards that pride themselves on a strong set-piece,” he said. “Their backs play with a lot of freedom and width and they approach matches with a real all-round game plan.
“We will need to keep a lid on their attacking side of the game, but we will also want to impose ourselves on the match and let them worry about us.
“It’s a bit of an unknown really in that both sides have had a bit of an up and down pre-season results-wise, but I’m sure come Friday night at 8pm both teams will be up for it and aim to get off to a winning start.”