NEW director of rugby at Malvern, Dave Irish, says he has “great hope for the campaign ahead” after a bumper turn-out for pre-season training.

A total of 38 players were at Spring Lane for the club’s first summer session this week as Malvern prepare for Midlands Two West (South) following a second successive relegation.

Irish has been joined by former Worcester Warriors defence coach Billy McGinty, as well as ex-Malvern lock Vince Hill, who will oversee the development XV.

Nick Tisdale, who was head coach last season, will still be involved when his teaching commitments allow.

Irish said: “We had 38 people at Spring Lane, which is the largest number for a first pre-season in memory.

“Given that at least another dozen or more regular players were unable to attend due to holidays or work commitments, this gives me great hope for the season ahead.”

McGinty ran the majority of the session and he brings a wealth of experience to the club, having played rugby league for Great Britain, Warrington and Wigan, as well as union for Sale.

His coaching career has included spells at Edinburgh and 10 years at Warriors.

Former lock Hill has guided the club’s under 17s to league honours and played in the same Malvern side as Irish, which went up through the rugby pyramid.

“Vince and I have 25 years’ worth of Malvern experience and have the club in our psyche,” said Irish.

“I also hope to bring in some of the other team members from our era to assist in the development and growth of the club as we consolidate our position and then grow the playing strength using our vibrant youth section as the basis of a truly local club.

“We want to bring back the enthusiasm for the sport at Malvern, some of which was inevitably lost over the last two difficult years and the first step is to make training an enjoyable time to work hard but then socialise afterwards.

“Despite relegation, there are many good things within the team on which we can build for the future and the first session was a good start.”

Malvern have home friendlies with Bridgnorth and Wolverhampton on August 9 and 23 respectively before a September 6 cup game at Ludlow, where Irish was head coach before his return.

Rob Cook’s new contract at Gloucester means he is no longer able to undertake coaching duties at Malvern but will help out when he can.