WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club are already busy preparing for a promotion push back into National 1 next season.
Raiders were relegated after just one season in National 1 in April but are hopeful of keeping the majority of their squad together for their National 2 South campaign which begins in September.
Ollie Richards’ departure was announced at the end of last season as he is moving away from the area, while his centre partner, Kiba Richards, is set to join Rosslyn Park.
Kiba Richards had been back at Worthing for three seasons, in his second spell at the club, and he received his first call-up into the England Counties squad last year.
Raiders chairman David Hinchliffe said: “Kiba’s been offered something he couldn’t say no to and we couldn’t match it. He will be a loss – you can’t lose a player like that without it being a loss but we’ve got one or two irons in the fire ourselves.
“Finlay Coxon-Smith can play at centre and he will be back to fitness by the start of the season and Matt McLean can play centre, too.
“We’re actively recruiting, while we’ve also got some good players coming through from the A team who are ready to step up.”
On keeping the rest of the squad together, Hinchliffe said: “One or two have probably had offers but there’s no other clubs nearby. You won’t be able to join another club without a lot of travelling.
“All of the players have jobs and they don’t play full-time, so it’s whether they can find the time to be in London, or somewhere else for training, at 7pm two times a week.
“Hopefully, everyone will stay together as the plan is to try very hard to get straight back up into National 1, as we enjoyed our season playing at that level.”
Raiders return to pre-season training in the first week of July and they will entertain Tonbridge Juddians in their first friendly on July 16.
Hinchliffe hopes Worthing will have their full squad together by then but said: “We’ll try to have all the new signings in before that game, although there are always players who throw their hat in the ring and try to get something at a higher level and then come on the market later on, so we’ll see what happens.”