HEAD coach Stefan Sankala says Bedwas have a “point to prove” following their relegation from the Premiership, but immediate promotion back to the top flight “isn’t the be all and end all”.

Bedwas get their Championship season under way on Sunday when they host fellow relegated side Cross Keys at Bridge Field (kick-off 2.30pm).

Sankala has seen several experienced heads leave over the summer, while a lot of those coming in have been from local clubs.

“There is an expectation that if you’re not in the Premiership your better players will go to sides that can offer them a higher level of rugby,” said Sankala.

“That happened to us, we did lose a few, but we did keep hold of some players that means we’ve still got the spine of a team.

“Nathan Hudd, Brynley Toms and Joel Scrivens have gone to Cardiff, Tom Rowlands and Sion Parry went to Pontypridd, Alun Rees joined Llandovery and Jacob Chilcott has gone to Bridgend.

“We have opened up to the local clubs to continue our affiliation with them, and they have sent some of their players to train with us.

“If the boys don’t represent Bedwas then they will represent the local clubs and vice-versa.”

He added: “Getting back to the Premiership has to be an objective of ours, but I don’t think it’s the be all and end all.

“Our short-term goal is to be in and around the top three or four at Christmas and then we’ll re-evaluate.

“I’d like to think we’ll be competitive and stay in the top half of the table.

“We’ve got a point to prove.

“We had been in the Premiership since it started so it’s up to us to see if we can bounce back up.

“The pressure comes from within and it’s going to be tough, and a bit of an unknown quantity.”

On Sunday’s game, he said: “It’s a local derby and it’s against another club just relegated from the Premiership.

“Both sides will be saying the same thing, which is if you can win this and start the season on the front foot it will breed confidence in the squad.”

Bedwas start the new season after friendly wins over Bedlinog and Marlborough.