Doncaster RLFC’s longest serving player Kyle Kesik is all set to kick off his ninth season at the club on Sunday when Coventry Bears visit the Keepmoat Stadium.
Like all his team-mates, old and new, the hooker is hoping that it will be case of third time lucky in the club’s efforts to get out of League One.
“I’ve had enough of this division and I want to get back up to the Championship,” he said.
“But it doesn’t get any easier and there are a lot of good teams such as relegated Bradford and Oldham and the likes of Whitehaven, York, Newcastle and Keighley who will all fancy their chances.”
Despite the Dons suffering narrow defeats in both their warm-up games against Championship opposition, Kesik feels the club are well placed to challenge.
“Richard Horne [head coach] has some good ideas and you can see what he is hoping to do and how he wants us to play,” said Kesik.
“Pre-season has picked up massively and you’ve seen the increased fitness levels in the warm-up games.
“Everyone has been keen and eager both in training and in the games to do well and to be in the team for the first game.
“We’ve still not done as much ball work as we probably would have liked despite having trained at Castle Park. But we’ve worked hard on defence and we’ll be looking to try and stay tight in games.”
Having led the side for several years Kesik will now drop back to vice-captain again this season.
“If I’m being honest I’m a little bit disappointed as I’ve been captain for quite a few years,” he said. “But Ryan (Boyle) is a good bloke and he’s been around a bit and played at a good level. I’m sure he’ll do a good job and good luck to him.
“We’ve lost some good players from last season, some of whom knew a lot about this division but we’ve also brought some good players in.”
Looking ahead to the new season, Kesik said: “It’s always nice to get off to a good start and it helps being at home in our first game.
“But we’re not going to start counting our chickens and we’ll be treating Coventry with the same respect that we’d show one of the top teams.
“As I say we are at home and we want to make the Keepmoat a fortress this season.
“We certainly don’t want to be losing more than one or two games at home because we know it’s going to be a dogfight to come up with a win in most of our away games.
“That’s particularly the case when you go up to Cumbria because the likes of Whitehaven and Workington certainly view their grounds as a fortress.”
Kesik welcomes the switch back to a fixture format which sees every team play the others home and away.
“It’s traditional and everyone understands how it works, as against the last couple of season when teams just played each other just once and the top eight sides went into the Super 8s and then you had the play-offs,” he said.
“This year the side which is top after all the league games are promoted and the next four play-off to see who will join them in the Championship. It’s much simpler this year and fairer for both the teams and supporters.
“If you lose a league game you’ve got a chance in the return and you aren’t waiting for the Super 8s.”