Jersey Reds: Harvey Biljon's side set for 'fresh start' as they head for France

Jersey Reds team photo
There are 20 new faces in Jersey's squad of 34 for the new Championship season

Jersey head coach Harvey Biljon says it feels like a "fresh start" for the club, with 20 new signings arriving this summer.

The Reds lost forwards Gary Graham, James Freeman, Pierce Phillips and Simon Kerrod to Premiership sides at the end of last season, as they secured their highest-ever finish.

They face French second-tier team Vannes in a friendly on Saturday.

"I don't think it's a new era, but it's a fresh start," said Biljon.

"With a new group of players, they've got the opportunity to create their own identity.

"We know what we stand for, but they've got to come in and contribute and add something to the environment."

Former captains Freeman, Phillips and Alex Rae all departed the Reds at the end of the 2016-17 campaign, and Biljon has yet to announce his permanent new skipper.

South Africa-born prop Roy Godfrey is set to captain the side on his first outing, with 11 of the starting 15 for the match with Vannes in line for their debuts.

"I've been really impressed by the way he [Godfrey] has conducted himself and the way his voice is coming through the squad," said Biljon, who guided Jersey to fifth place in the Championship and to the British & Irish Cup final last season.

"Last season was the culmination of three years of hard work, and this season I can honestly say at the moment we're focusing on this week against Vannes and learning as much about the players as we can.

"Once we've got that sort of information and we've seen the guys compete and perform under pressure, then that'll give us a gauge on how we set our goals and expectations for the season."

The trip to France will be followed by a home friendly against Coventry and a game with Premiership outfit Harlequins before the league campaign begins in September.

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