TOM HEEKS has set his sights on a fast start to the new season with Drifters having won promotion into Southern Counties North last year.

Drifters finished runners-up to Swindon College Old Boys in the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Premier last season with an unbeaten home league record of nine wins and one draw.

Heeks admits that the higher league presents a much tougher challenge for his men with numerous derby matches to overcome, including against the likes of Windsor and Beaconsfield, but the coach has targeted a mid-table finish.

He told the Observer: “We’re the only club to be promoted into the league and three have been relegated down, so we expect a few tough games.

“It will be a much tougher league and challenge so mid-table would be fantastic. We would like to win half of our games and certainly all of our home matches to compete with those towards the top of the table.

“We’ve got to win games early on so we are not messing about with a relegation battle because we feel that we’re better than that.

“Pre-season has gone well and, though we have not recruited much, we’ve kept the core of the side together and will go into the season feeling pretty confident.

“We played a very tough Marlborough team a few weeks ago who will no doubt end up top in their league because they were very good.

“The boys are very much prepared and training has been excellent.”

Heeks continued: “I’m most pleased with our second team because all throughout last season we struggled to put a side out, but we will do so comfortably this year. That’s good for the club and for the game.

“We’ve had an increase of 10-12 players compared to where we were last season. Some have returned to the club and others are new to the area, but we’ve not pinched anyone from other clubs, which is also quite pleasing.

“A lot of hard work has gone in over the summer, not just on the rugby side but with the culture of the club as well, which is equally as important.”

Drifters get the new season under way at home to Stow-on-the-Wold this Saturday and Heeks believes it will be an indication as to where his side stand in the league.

He said: “We’ve played Stow many times and enjoyed many good games with them. We expect there will be a lot of local teams and rivalries this season and this will be one of them.

“They came eighth or ninth last season so by the end of Saturday we will know where we are. No doubt there will be a bit of rust from both teams but we will go in very positive and look forward to the game.”

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