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McAvoy sets his sights on promotion in debut season

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James McAvoy is preparing for his first full season in charge of Newbury Blues - and he has high expectations.

McAvoy spent much of last season as attack and backs coach before replacing Paul Archer as head coach.

And McAvoy, who has previously worked with the London Irish academy, is making the most of Archer's "expertise and experience."

James McAvoy
James McAvoy

The former Worthing man isn't feeling the pressure as he adapts to his new role as head coach.

"In terms of pressure, I don't really feel it.

"I feel the pressure of responsibility of mapping out this season, but I've always been someone who is willing to take risks and be innovative."

The Blues pre-season begins with a presentation evening on July 1 but McAvoy's preparations are already well underway.

He said: "I've been touching base with the players.

"It's important to keep those connections and keep that rapport and reflect on the previous season."

McAvoy recognises that pre-season can be a balancing act - he says it's first and foremost about "cohesion and relationships."

"The boys want to turn up to play rugby and if they wanted to turn up to do fitness, they'd join a fitness club," he said.

"My expectations are that they take care of themselves away from the pitch so that the time we spend together can be really valuable from a rugby sense.

"There'll be a large onus on our skill sets and playing principles."

Looking ahead to next season, which kicks off on September 3, McAvoy wants his players to "play to our strengths, that's what will make the difference."

He said: "I realise that, training twice a week, we're better off trying to make our strengths super-strengths than we are trying to fix every weakness week on week.

"If we play to the best of our ability, teams won't live with us."

McAvoy wants his Newbury Blues to be a force off the pitch as well as on it.

"We're focused on helping the minis and juniors come through," he said.

"We're looking at opportunities for our senior players to go and coach colts and juniors."

The men's teams are also planning to work closely with the women's side - six of Nikki Paton's players represented Berkshire at Twickenham over the Jubilee weekend.

McAvoy describes the coming season as "a 22 round fight."

He said: "It would be difficult for us as a club, and difficult for me and the players, to not talk about promotion."

His ambition, then - a knockout season that ends with silverware.

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