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Mark Billings raring to go for start of Southend Rugby Club's season
MARK Billings will start his eighth season with Southend Rugby Club tomorrow fitter than he has ever been before.
The 25-year-old and the rest of the Seasiders team have been put through a gruelling pre-season schedule.
And Billings feels that has put the side in good stead for the new campaign which gets underway with a home clash against Dings Crusaders.
“This is definitely the fittest I’ve ever felt and I think most of the lads feel the same way after the amount of work we’ve put in during pre-season,” said Billings.
“We’ve really been put through our paces both mentally and physically by Phil Hillson and we’ve really been kept switched on.
“Every time we’ve made mistakes we’ve had to do a forfeit and we’re raring to go for the start of the season.”
Billings, in particular, cannot wait to get going after scoring six tries in Southend’s three pre-season friendlies.
They all came from his new full-back role and he is relishing a change of position.
“I like it there because I have more space to use my speed and get to see more of the ball as well,” said Billings.
“The tries have been a bonus and it would be great to get a few more once the season starts.
“But it’s the team that matters most and making sure we get better results, especially at home because over the last couple of years teams have not feared coming here to play and we have to try and change that again.”
However, as they attempt to make that happen the Seasiders have a number of injury concerns for tomorrow’s clash. Michael Guess (fractured arm), Sonny Gay (dislocated shoulder) and Billy Driver (ankle) have all been ruled out along with Andrew Frost.
Fly-half Jack Jones is also rated at 50/50 due to a shoulder problem and the club’s director of rugby Chris Green admits the situation is far from ideal.
“I’d be lying if I said the injuries hadn’t caused us problems but we have to get on with it and we have good players to replace them,” said Green.
“The aim at the start of every season is to do better than we did the year before and that’s our main target this year.”
Southend will be captained by the returning Sam Cook tomorrow while Tom Ashton is also likely to be handed a start at centre.
The game at Warners Bridge kicks off at 3pm.