ROYAL Wootton Bassett’s wait for the new rugby season is almost over, and head coach Alan Low is hopeful a fresh approach to injury treatment can inspire a positive South West One East campaign.

Bassett start their 2019-20 season with a trip to Old Centralians on Saturday but memories of the club’s fall from the play-off frame to fifth last term remain firmly printed in Low’s memory.

A series of untimely injuries to Phil Bardwell, David Hogg, Chris Patterson and Troy Cusack ended Bassett’s promotion hopes, as Newbury Blues walked the title.

Hogg will once again be absent this season having gone under the knife to fix knee during the summer, but Low’s top trio in Bardwell, Patterson and Cusack will return.

Providing everyone stays fit, the Bassett boss sees no reason why his side cannot be challenging at the top end of the table this term.

He said: “If everyone can stay fit, then we have an extremely strong group of players that we believe can play really well.

“Finishing in the top four was our aim last year. We knew that was a realistic goal at the halfway stage, but we picked up some key injuries that didn’t help.

“It will be a tough test at Old Centralians. Starting the season strongly, like is one of our targets.

“We’ve got to maintain those levels and we’ve got to look at better ways to keep everybody fit.

“We’ve changed the physio, and an awful lot of work has been done to address these small niggles that players have been carrying for a whole season in previous cases.”

Amid Bassett’s league commitments, Low is also keen to continually address the club’s approach to youth talent and inclusion.

Low is keen to increase young players’ value for money, and has former Exeter Chief strength and conditioning coach James Marshall on standby to help the club’s senior and younger players with their development.

Having fielded several second-team players in the second half of last season, Low has great faith in the club’s future.

He said: “The key thing for us is to develop local talent, and we’ve built a strong foundation.

“Participation is struggling in sport locally, and there is no way you can grow any club without participation numbers.

“The first stage of our plan is to address that issue, and that will be an ongoing thing.”