Doncaster Knights captain Michael Hills hopes the addition of some transatlantic power can steer his newly-promoted side clear of the Greene King IPA Championship basement.
Knights, winners of National League One, have bolstered their squad with Canadian international second-rowers Tyler Hotson and Jon Phelan as they look to cement their place in English rugby’s second tier.
And with the duo ready to be unleashed on Plymouth Albion today, Hills is targeting a winning start and to make Castle Park a fortress.
“We’ve got two big Canadian second rowers who have come in, so they’re ones to watch,” said newly-appointed on-field captain Hills.
“They will be used to a professional set up, having played against the top teams.
“You learn from playing against the best and they can say they’ve done that. They’ve come in and brought a lot to the team which is important.
“We had an unbeaten home record last year and it will be crucial for us this year to win games at home,” he added.
“We want to get to the season off to a good start where we’re comfortable, that’s crucial.
“Plymouth have been in this league for many seasons now and they’re always a tough outfit, physical and like to play with the ball as well. But we’re going to do everything we can to get a first win.”
Doncaster’s last stint in the Championship ended with them finishing at the foot of the table, having secured just three wins from 22 league matches.
But local lad Hills is confident his hometown team will have enough about them to successfully beat the drop this time.
“The first few months of the season will be crucial to finding out where we are, but I’m very confident in the team,” he added.
“The confidence from winning National One is massive.
“We’ve kept the nucleus of the squad, which is crucial, because last year we only had four or five players that had been there in the previous season.
“But this year the new lads can build around an already strong team.
“As everybody knows the Championship is getting better each year and even with one year out of it you can be left wondering what’s going on there.
“But we’ve prepared very well, had some good pre-season games and we’re looking good and feeling confident.”
n Knights yesterday announced a dual-registration link with Premiership giants Leicester Tigers.
The arrangement will see six young Leicester players - Riccardo Brugnara, Tiziano Pasquali, Harry Thacker, Will Owen, Rhys Davis Williams and George Tressider - made available for Doncaster at various stages of the season.