STABILISING is the main aim for Cross Keys as they get ready to start their first season in the Championship, says team manager Mark Prangell.

Keys begin the new term on Sunday with a trip to Bedwas (kick-off 2.30pm), who like them were relegated from the Premiership in May.

While head coach Morgan Stoddart has managed to keep a handful of experienced players, several others have signed for clubs at a higher level and in the Championship.

But even though they have lost a number of big names, the fact Keys are still going following their financial problems last season is something Prangell is hugely grateful for.

“Everyone is gelling well and it’s a happy camp, and the club is a lot healthier than it was last season,” he said.

“I’ve been at the club a while now and they were bad times, and I’d take where we are now over where we were then any day of the week.

“We’re excited to work with these new boys, they are a breath of fresh air. They are not demanding at all and love coming to training.

“We’ve had a few socials and they’ve really bought into the club and are proud to play at Pandy Park.”

He continued: “We’ve lost quite a lot of experience, but you’ve got to live within your means in the Championship.

“We’ve sat at the top table for a long time and we’re a club in a small village punching above our weight.

“Our goal this season is to stabilise. If we are in a position to challenge for promotion then that’s great, but it’s about stabilising and enjoying the rugby.”

Commenting further on the playing base, he said: “We basically have a new squad.

“Guys like Tom Lampard, Richard Cornock, Joe Thomas, Wes Cunliffe and Harvey Reader have been retained.

“But Leon Andrews has gone to Cardiff, Damian Welch has joined Merthyr, Jason Tovey is with Cardiff Blues and Ieuan Jones and Owain Leonard are at Pontypool.

“We’ve got a good nucleus and have brought in a lot of youngsters. Saul Nelson is our new forwards coach and Dan Hitchings is new strength and conditioning coach.”