BURTON Rugby Club director of rugby Steve Smith is pleased with the competition for places that is developing this summer.
The Crofters are preparing for the new season, which will see them competing at national level once again, following promotion last campaign.
They have retained the majority of the team that got them to that level, as well as bringing in centre Sam Smith from Leicester Lions, hooker Ed Saunders from Bath, back row Dom Musetti from Harrogate, flanker Jack Neale from Burntwood, Staffordshire full-back Nick Oxley and prop Martyn Bentley from Rugeley.
The size of the squad is now approaching 50 players, which will be split between the various first team squads.
Smith said: "We have a lot of competition for places.
"In the back row particularly, we have about 10 lads competing hard for three available starting spaces."
On new signing Musetti, Smith said: "He has played level four at Harrogate and is moving to the area for work at JCB.
"He also played for my first-ever junior club – Windermere – where I played with his dad."
Smith is also excited about Neale.
He said: "He has played for the county team and is someone we've been watching develop over the past few years."
A number of last season's Burton Colts team, such as scrum-half Eddie Nicholls, second row Jordan Hayles, prop Jamie Hamilton, Liam Collett, Will Smith and Will Jay, as well as former colts captain Andy Tattersall, have been training with the first team ahead of a possible step up.
Smith is hoping that Nyle Davidson, who is looking for a job as a teaching assistant in the area, will join.
The club missed out on Kev Birt, while recent addition George Wild has elected to return to Leamington.
"I think he potentially found the standards of fitness too high at first XV level," said Smith.
Liam Hucknall has rejoined parent club Lichfield Lions.
"If things don't work out, he will hopefully be coming to us on loan," said Smith.
"We will also be working with Leicester to potentially provide a club for players who are not currently in their first XV squad, to enable them to gain additional game time."