With their sights set firmly on a trip to Camberley on September 11, Winchester’s rugby players are already two months into pre-season training.

After six weeks of demanding fitness work, the emphasis placed on stamina building, Winchester’s new coaching team are now focusing on skill development, set-pieces and unit play.

More than 50 players have been reporting to North Walls Park on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, newly appointed head coach Andy Fields and his assistants, Andy Pryce, Mick Sullivan and Martin Livesey, working with the seniors, while David Martin puts the colts through their paces.

“Attendance has been excellent,” says former Nottingham and England Under 21 hooker Andy Fields.

“There’s great enthusiasm and now it’s our job to work hard so that we get things right for the new season.”

The noticeable upsurge of enthusiasm comes from the appointment of Fields in the close season, along with the respect held for the new chairman of rugby, Mark Vickers, the former Winchester, Havant and Hampshire player, one of the most highly regarded players in local rugby. “We know that Vicks will be supporting and motivating us at all our training sessions and he will certainly be leading the players by example. “He still plays and could still play 1st XV rugby if he wanted to,” says the coach.

The former Winchester fly-half and captain Andy Pryce is working with the backs. “He brings unbelievable experience and rugby knowledge,” explains Fields. “I don’t know of anyone better to work with our backs and Mick Sullivan is the ideal man to coach the forwards. “He’s Winchester through and through, was club captain on two occasions, propped for London Irish and was the finest scrummager Winchester ever had.”

For full story don't miss this week's Hampshire Chronicle.