New boy Alex Shaw says the spirit of last season will be a vital component of Doncaster Knights’ bid to stabilise in the Championship.
Doncaster launch their new campaign at home to Plymouth Albion on Saturday (2.30pm).
The game marks Knights’ return to the second tier after just one season in National One - a campaign which saw Clive Griffiths’ men uphold their favourites’ tag and win the league title.
And Shaw, who arrived at Castle Park this summer from Nottingham, insists the spirit generated from last season will be crucial as the squad look to make what is a big step-up to the Championship.
“When any team goes through a season and wins the league it brings everyone closer together,” said Shaw, 27.
“You can tell that when you’re inside the changing room and when you’re working on the pitch or in the gym.
“They’re very high spirited here. It’s a good place to be and there’s still a good buzz on the back of last season’s success.
“I think that is going to be one of our most important attributes leading into this campaign.”
He added: “Maybe not this year, but in terms of progressing over the next few years, Doncaster have great potential to keep going up and progressing.
“They’ve got those foundations set and it’s going to be great to be a part of that set-up and that team.
“A lot of the players who were around last year are still here. That sort of winning mentality that they had is going to be key, but for a lot of the players stepping up into the Championship it is going to be difficult.
“For every team that has been promoted in the last five years or so, since it has been a 12-team structure, it has been really difficult.
“But Doncaster have been there before. They’re clearly aware of what it takes to stay up.”
Shaw, a former England junior international, is one of several new faces likely to feature this weekend.
He said: “One of the main reasons I decided to come here to Doncaster was because of some good friends I’ve played with in the past who are already here and they both spoke very highly about the club.
“Personally, I’d been at Nottingham for four years, really enjoyed my time there, and managed to stay pretty injury free in over 100 games for the club. I just wanted a new challenge, really.
“It’s for my own individual progression, to experience new things and Doncaster gave me that option. I thought it was a good match.
“The head coach and the facilities that they have here were some of the main things in my decision.”