Bann boys prepared for promotion push

Mike Bentley is one of the new faces in the Banbridge squad and has been preparing the side for the new season.
Mike Bentley is one of the new faces in the Banbridge squad and has been preparing the side for the new season.

Banbridge’s first team squad are fighting fit and ready for the new season.

That’s the hope of Head Coach Daniel Soper, who reckons his side are better prepared than ever.

“We’ve had a good pre-season and we’re happy with where we are,” he said.

“The guys have worked really hard. Mike Bentley has come in as a trainer and has brought in some new ideas. We’ve put in more work in in the gym.

“Mike has run two sessions a week and a lot of guys have been doing extra work during the summer as well.

“We’ve been doing 40 minute gym sessions before training so it’s made for longer nights but the boys have been great.”

Bentley is one of three new recruits in the squad. The Zimbabwean 27 year-old has moved north after spells at Dundalk and Boyne and has slotted into the back row as well as taking the squad for their pre-season fitness schedule.

Lee Steenson has also returned to the club at scrum half. “He has done really well in there,” said Soper. “We also have Jason Gribben and Josh Cromie backing him up so we’re well covered in there.”

Fraser Mulholland followed Steenson from Dromore and will challenge Peter Cromie for a starting spot in the Banbridge line-up.

Having lost Aaron Kennedy, who is off to New Zealand, and Jonny Pollock, who has joined his home club Armagh, Soper is also keen to give some of last year’s squad a bigger role.

“Shandon Scott didn’t get many opportunities last season but he is progressing very well at out-half,” he said.

“Alan Conn is another who was having a really good summer ant then he pulled up with his hamstring the week before our first game. We will hopefully have him back in training this week. It was unfortunate for him because Alan has made really good progress over the last two years.

“Our squad hasn’t changed an awful lot since last season so we want to pick up where we left off last season.

It’s been quite straight forward for the new guys to get up to speed with everyone else because we’re not introducing a lot of new things. We’re just trying to get better at what we do.

“We’ve got a good squad. Like a lot of clubs, we probably don’t have an endless depth to the squad so we need to avoid injuries as much as possible.”