Fox has assembled his best-ever Lions squad
Rugby - National League Division Three
Peterborough Lions are in great shape and raring to roar into action against Derby at Bretton Park on Saturday (3pm). The Lions will be playing their third season in National League Division Three and will again be fancied to be among the frontrunners.
In their first season in the National Leaguethey finished third, narrowlymissingouton the promotion play-offs, and last seasontheyattainedatopfour finish, which was not a bad effort seeing as they suffered an early-season injury crisis.
So can they improve, secure promotion and move up a level? That’s a question head coach Darren Fox, now going into his third season at the helm, won’t be drawn on.
“My aim is to get the best out of the players, make sure they improve and make sure we’re competitive at this level. I don’t do bold predicitions,” he said.
“The results will look after themselves. Butifwearethere or thereabouts at Christmas then we’ll be going for it.
“What I can tell you is that I’ve got the best set of players since I’ve been here. We’ve added plenty of experience to the squad. Some of the new players have played in National League One, and that will certainly stand us in good stead.”
The Lions were away on tour over the Bank Holiday weekend in Cornwall and played Camborne on Satur- day in their last pre-season friendly.
“Theyplayatthesamelevel as us - in the South West division - and it was an ideal test,” said Fox. “They were a big physical side and it was just whatweneededgoingintothe Derby game.
“Welost 19-12, but wewere much the better side in the secondhalf. Theykickedafew penalties to get the win.
“Overall I was well pleased withtheperformanceandthe weekend as a whole. We all went surfing and there was some great bonding.”
Fox, a former Northampton Saints and Bedford Blues star, came on himself for the last 20minutestoscoreoneof the Lions’ tries (Joe Andresen got the other) but Fox is only likely to play next season if required.
Onthesigning front, experienced forwards Josh Waller (ex-England Under 18s) and Peter Kolakowski (ex-British Police) have joined the Lions onapermanentbasisfromNational LeagueOneCambridge after playing for them on loan last season.
Fly-half Nico Defeo has alsojoined fromCambridgeand he’srepresentedItalyatUnder 21 level.
Talented back row player Tom Gulland is another exEngland Under 18s man moving to Bretton Park. He was with National League One club Blaydon last season and before that NewcastleFalcons Academy.
New centre Jonathan Hill (33) hasn’t played for a couple of seasons but has a very impressive pedigree, having played for Cardiff Blues (20 games in the 2005/2006 sea- son), Wasps Academy and Ulster. He was outstanding in the game against Camborne.
For the Derby fixture, the LionsarewithoutSamCrooks, Curtis Weaver (both unavailable), Del Le Ray Veenendaal andMattDunn(bothinjured). Derby were promoted via the play-offs from Midlands Division One last season.
Peter Kolakowski has signed for the Lions.