Kieron Dawson: Worthing Raiders coach eyes consolidation

Worthing have bulked up - Dawson

Worthing Raiders head coach Kieron Dawson believes the club are capable of establishing themselves in the third tier of English rugby.

The West Sussex club begin their first season in National League One away to Wharfedale on Saturday.

"As a club we are making the right noises and saying we want to consolidate in mid-table," Dawson told BBC Sussex.

"I see no reason why we can't finish in the top half of the table."

The former Ireland flanker added: "Richmond and Old Albanians, who were promoted last year, finished fifth and seventh respectively.

Worthing prepare for third-tier rugby

"We know we can compete against them so why not have the confidence to go out and perform against these bigger clubs?

"It's one of those things that is fluid. We will see where we are after the first three games of the season and go from there."

Dawson says the squad have worked hard on their conditioning over the summer following their promotion from National League Two South.

"We spoke to a few of the players who played in that league before," he said.

"They said our players are on a par, if not better, skill-wise but that where we would fall down is the physicality and the sheer bulk of the forwards we will come up against.

"We made that a focus and brought in a strength and conditioning coach in the summer and spent a bit of money in the gym.

"We feel we are addressing that. It may take two seasons or until Christmas - we don't know until we hit the ground."

Dawson has described the preparations of his players at Roundstone Lane as "incredible" and is comfortable ahead of their season-opener.

"I have got to take my hat off to the lads," he said. "They have applied themselves professionally even though we are not a professional club.

"What is great about this squad and players is their togetherness and I have every confidence we are ready to go."