Back row forward Harri Keddie is excited at the prospect of a new challenge ahead of the commencement of the United Rugby Championship (URC).
A new-look league name and format will see the introduction of four new South African sides as 16 teams across two hemispheres compete to be crowned URC champions.
Keddie believes the players are all looking forward to what will be a new but exciting challenge in the URC.
And the 25-year-old admits it will be extra special to see a crowd back at Rodney Parade for the 2021/2022 season.
“It will be a different challenge to what we are used to - and will make the league more competitive,” said the Magor-born ace.
“Hopefully it will make it more enjoyable for us to play in and for the fans to watch as well, which is what everyone wants.
“We can’t wait to play in front of fans again,” he added. “It’s been too long since we had fans at Rodney and we’ve all missed them a lot.
“I think back to a lot of games over the years where they have made a difference, so I just can’t wait to get back there.
“On the new pitch as well and with the fans back, it will be a great occasion the first time we have them all back behind us.”
Dean Ryan’s men are already preparing for the new season with the players into the second week of a gruelling pre-season.
Keddie acknowledges it has been a tough start to pre-season with plenty of hard work, but has praised the way the squad have hit the ground running.
And the former Ebbw Vale man believes the squad newcomers have settled in well and is looking forward to the group getting even closer as they edge towards the start of the new campaign.
“It has been pretty tough to be fair,” he admitted.
“We started at the right time with a bit of a heatwave last week, which hasn’t helped when running around on the pitch! But it’s been good so far, tough but enjoyable.
“We have got a much shorter pre-season than we had last year so it’s going to be tougher but shorter. I’m not sure if that will be better or not yet… but it’s been good so far.”
He continued: “The new boys have settled in well. The forwards have been doing more stuff together so we have been getting to know Aki (Seiuli) and that pretty well.
“They have been fitting in well in training and seem like good boys so we have welcomed them in with open arms.”
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It’s been too long since we had fans at Rodney and we’ve all missed them a lot... I think back to a lot of games over the years where they have made a difference, so I just can’t wait to get back there...