Haddington rugby coach Rhodri Thomas is relishing the upcoming battle as his men target promotion from BT National Division Three.
Thomas took the reins at Neilson Park in the summer, returning to the club where he played most of his rugby before cutting his teeth as a coach in a successful spell at North Berwick.
Haddington had just suffered relegation but the Welshman was determined that his players would put that disappointment behind them and bid to bounce back immediately.
“The past is past and there is no point in dwelling on it,” said Thomas of last season’s demotion. “When we came in our idea was to be positive and to get the boys playing good rugby and enjoying it. They bought in to the idea. Everybody put in a good pre-season.
“We spent a lot of time chatting to the players about how we wanted to play. We wanted to create an environment the players can enjoy while pushing themselves.”
That positive mood has proved successful and is set to bear fruit with Haddington remaining in contention for a top-two finish with seven games remaining as the league campaign enters its decisive phase.
Thomas acknowledges that unbeaten pacesetters GHK are strong favourites to win the title but he has absolute faith in his men’s ability to maintain their current run of good form in a race to secure promotion.
And what has been particularly satisfying for the coach is the manner of recent victories, with four successive wins by no more than seven points.
“We’ve been grinding out wins,” he added. “It’s all about finding ways to win but I know our guys are as fit, if not fitter, than everyone else in the league. There is a great collective team spirit.”
The confidence those results have generated has fed the optimism in a side that is a potent combination of youth and experience, albeit there is still much work to do.
“To be sitting third at Christmas is a good place to be,” said Thomas, noting that Haddington have played more matches than all the other teams in the league.
“I would rather be in the position we are in having played the games and got the points. We are in the mix. Our target was to finish in the top half. Now we are targeting a promotion spot. Realistically GHK are going to win the league but second spot is available.”