RGC begin their quest for further Principality Premiership success this weekend after a standout debut season.
The Gogs will be looking to impose themselves in the top flight once again after emerging as the surprise package last term, which saw them get their hands on the WRU National Cup for an historic first time in addition to booking a playoff place.
Sports reporter Dean Jones identifies five key figures that are going to be pivotal to any success they may have this season.
The talented back has emerged as a key component for Mark Jones’ side, and his playmaking ability will once again be at the heart of any success that comes their way this season.
Loots has the ability to turn the game on its head at any given opportunity, and his vision is another trait that stood out last term in what was a breakout season for the centre.
Much will be expected of Loots once again this season, but with teams now sure to key in on him he will have to be at his best to make the same impact.
Hughes is the other half of the prominent centre tandem that was a huge part of their success, and it would not be surprise to see another season of huge profit for the gifted star if they want to avoid “second season syndrome”.
The back is a strong with a deft touch and manages to bring others into play superbly, and these are things that have become synonymous with the free-flowing attacking rugby that has become synonymous with the Gogs under the leadership of former Llanelli man Jones.
The New Zealand fly-half exceeded expectations last season by becoming the standout player in the entire division, something which won him the Principality Premiership Player of the Year Award.
It was a real coup for Jones’ side to convince Botica to stay on for another season, and his quick-thinking and flawless kicking will be a huge asset to have throughout the season.
He will now have a bullseye on his back following his debut season success, but given the ability he has then Botica should be able to cope with the increased scrutiny with minimal fuss.
The number eight arrives at RGC will an impressive pedigree, having represented the All Blacks at under 20 level and came close to cracking Super Rugby after making the Highlanders Development squad in 2011.
His presence is going to give a pack that lacked strength-in-depth at times last season a huge lift, and if he can replicate the success of his fellow countrymen then it will be seen as the signing of the season from Jones.
While others gather the headlines, Wainwright is one of the most consistent performers in an RGC shirt and his influence during tough stages of contests will be crucial during what is expected to be another gruelling season.
The former Academy product has cemented his starting place as prop and he is a powerful presence with the ball in his hands, and if he continues his exceptional progression this term then the sky is the limit in terms of what he can achieve.
See full story in the County Times