DURHAM are back in the county big time – and one of their local stars says they are not there just to make up the numbers.
Durham launch their Billy Beaumont Cup Division One North programme in Hartlepool tomorrow against Lancashire.
It is the first year the men in maroon are back in county championship’s top flight and they have a testing three-match programme.
Lancashire are first up tomorrow at the Friarage (kick-off 3pm) before another home match next Saturday at Gateshead against Cheshire before visiting Scarborough to face Yorkshire on May 18.
On paper, Durham, promoted from Division Two 12 months ago, would be viewed as the outsiders.
But Jonny Boatman insists they have their sights set on topping the north group and trying to win a trip to Twickenham.
“It’s a challenge,” said the West Hartlepool number eight.
“But it’s one we are looking forward to, playing against the big counties like Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire.
“We had a good session at Rovers last night to get a feel of the pitch and the place.
“But most have played plenty of times on the Friarage any way.
“I think we are full of confidence – the majority of the squad are similar to last year’s team and we have a good mix with six or seven clubs represented in the side.
“There are has been a good structure to us – we’ve had some excellent sessions over the last few weeks when we’ve had pretty much a full turn-out of players.”
SEE Friday’s Mail for full story and more rugby