COLCHESTER Rugby Club have a new man in charge of the first team - and he’s predicting an exciting season to come for the newly-promoted team and their supporters, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

Craig Burrows has joined the club as Head Coach from neighbours Sudbury.

“I’m very, very excited,” said Burrows. “Because there’s a lot of talent here and they’re pointing in the right direction. I think we could see some amazing results.”

Burrows’s rugby pedigree is not in question having been steeped in the game from the age of five in his native South Africa, including a spell at the famous Grey College in Bloemfontein, known as the cradle of Springbok rugby.

Playing 9, 10 or 12, he was later offered a professional contract to play Currie Cup rugby.

On arrival in England his coaching career took off. He spent four seasons at Bury St Edmunds as Backs Coach and later Head Coach of the development side.

Burrows joined Sudbury as Head Coach at the start of last season and lead the team to promotion from London 1 North, vying with eventual champions Shelford for the top spot, right up to the end of the season.

His initial impression of Colchester rugby is a positive one, not least what he describes as “top facilities.” But now the hard work begins, preparing the team for the big challenge of competing in the fifth tier of English rugby.

Accepting that players will inevitably have work and other commitments (Colchester used 49 players last season) Burrows is looking to develop a bigger pool of players.

“We’ve got to build a decent squad so we can then perhaps look at a rotation system which is needed. I definitely want to try to bring the boys together so there’s a want and a desire to be involved every training session, every game.”

The departure of a host of first team regulars, including the retirement of club stalwarts James Mitchell, Charlie Thorogood and James Crozier at the end of last season, was always going to be an issue, so it’s no surprise that Burrows describes player recruitment as “massive”.

“It’s already started - the wheels are rolling for us. I’ve spoken to a lot of good players, some players from a few leagues above where we’re currently sat. It’s very, very exciting.

“I’d like to have a big pack which will come in very handy in the step up the leagues. Really high on my list is a decent 10, a 10 that’s got a lot of experience who can control the game. Once we have good set-pieces the backs will have a playground to play on.”

Burrows is also tweaking the coaching team. Rob Pickard will remain Forwards Coach with Mark Grigg moving to coach the colts.

Negotiations are ongoing to bring in another coach to look after strength and conditioning and to assist Burrows with the backs.

Colchester may have scored an impressive 126 tries last season but supporters won’t need reminding that they shipped too many.

“I’ll be dealing with defence. I feel defence is a very personal thing. You’ve got to take it personally. You can’t go in with a 50-50 approach.

"It’s got to be all or nothing. To be honest if a team can defend together you can attack. Defence is a massive, massive, massive box we have to tick.”

It would be a surprise if the two matches with Sudbury were not the first dates Burrows looks out for when the fixture list is published.

“There’s always been a bit of rivalry between the two clubs,” said Burrows, diplomatically.

“They’ll be cracking games of rugby and I’m really looking forward to them.”

As for the campaign as a whole, Burrows remains confident.

“It will be a challenge but if we can get ourselves prepared and ready, and the players buy into the new game patterns, the new structures, I think we should be all right.

“We don’t have to worry about anything. I’m not trying to be cocky, but I’m very confident.”