Ben Youngs lends a hand as North Walsham prepare for new rugby season

England star Ben Youngs keeps North Walsham players on their toes during a training session at Scott

England star Ben Youngs keeps North Walsham players on their toes during a training session at Scottw Picture: RICHARD POLLEY - Credit: Archant

North Walsham step up their preparations for the new season this Saturday with the first of their three pre-season fixtures.

The match with Holt (3pm) at Scottow is likely to be played in four 30 minute sessions, enabling all players the opportunity to get some game time and impress new head of rugby Johnny Marsters.

Training began in early July and Marsters is clearly pleased with how things have gone.

'The reaction from the players to the new coaching arrangements has been positive and numbers at training have consistently been well into the 30s, despite a handful of last season's regulars not yet being available.'

Around 60 were there for a session led by England and Leicester Tigers scrum-half Ben Youngs, himself a former North Walsham Youth player.

Marsters expects the Vikings' squad to be bigger than last season, with a number of Raiders players ready to step up alongside some newcomers to the club.

'Everyone will get an opportunity to stake a claim for a place in the side,' he said.

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New players continue to be welcomed, with training on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm.

Meanwhile 42 youngsters attended the recent week long summer camp.

'It went really well,' said assistant coach and Vikings regular James Knight, who led the event. 'Everyone seemed to enjoy it and you could see individuals improve as the week progressed.'

He was assisted by four other coaches, including club captain Matt Hodgson, the ratio of coaches to players meaning there were plenty of opportunities for individual support.

'We're really glad we came,' commented 11-year-olds Lucas Platt and Reg Scott before giving a long list of things they had learnt, including communication, letting the ball do the work, discipline, depth and width, teamwork and skills such as tackling and passing. Oscar Ratledge was named as player of the week and Hamish Winship as the most improved. The youth and minis start on Sunday, September 2.

The Vikings' two other pre-season matches are also at home: Southwold on August 18 (3pm) and Fakenham on Wednesday, August 22 (7.30pm).

Their first game in London One North is on September 1 when Fullerians visit Scottow.