NEW coach Norman Stalker says one of his main priorities is to strengthen the player base at Ludlow Rugby Club.

Stalker is taking his second training session tonight (Thursday) and already has a good feeling about the club.

The former Newport coach says he wants to make his pre-season sessions ‘challenging and fun’.

“The priority is to strengthen the player base and the feeling of the players is they want players who are keen to play at the club,” said Stalker.

“The overall feeling is that the lads want players at the club who are prepared to work hard and enjoy things.”

Ludlow finished sixth last term in Midlands Two West (North) after a traumatic second-half of the campaign.

Coach Dave Irish left the club and a series of players departed, including Darren Brick, Tim Breakwell, Tom and Dan Rawlings.

Stalker said: “We had a players’ meeting a couple of weeks ago and I got a good feel for the club and the players.

“Training will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays through the season and I know there is going to be times when the numbers are not going to be great.

“We had around 30 players at the meeting and the lads were talking about missing only around five or six players.”

Ludlow are arranging a pre-season friendly against Newtown and will host Malvern in the second round of the North Midlands Shield on September 6.

Stalker said: “We have got an interesting start to the season.

“The guys felt they fell away after Christmas last season and sixth place was not a fair reflection of their final placing.

“But that’s the sort of position the players feel they are likely to be.

“I have no experience of the league and I am feeling my way with things because I don’t yet know the ability levels of the players.”

North Midlands Shield, Second round draw: Ludlow v Malvern.

North Midlands Vase, Second round draw: Bishops Castle v Redditch, Five Ways OE v Cleobury Mortimer, Dudley Wasps or Chaddesley Corbett v Church Stretton, Ties to be played on September 6.