The Lady Bay Sports Ground will be a fortress for Nottingham in this year’s Greene King IPA Championship if head coach Ian Costello has his way.

Last year, Nottingham were flying high early doors before falling away in the second half of the season and finishing ninth out of the 11 teams in English Rugby’s second tier.

And while the competitiveness of the league only increases with each passing season, Costello is desperate to give the home fans more to cheer in the East Midlands this term.

“Our away record was better than our home record last year which was very disappointing and frustrating for our supporters,” he said.

“There was such a sway in our performance, it was so far from the mark at times, a key focus of the squad is making sure supporters see as brand of rugby they can identify with.

“We want the supporters to see the work ethic, attitude and mindset of the squad and deliver a far more competitive campaign at home this season.

“But we’ve managed to retain a lot of our squad and built, hopefully, a pretty solid foundation for the season ahead.

“One of the most exciting thing about coaching is progressing with a group from one season into the next.”

Costello, who is in his second season as head coach, has been busy during the off-season adding more experience to his front five – an area he identified as disappointing last year.

Second row Danny Qualter has been brought in from Connacht with Sean Scanlon and Rory Burke, who won the B&I Cup with Munster last year, also joining the Green & Whites. 

It’s part of his plot to be more consistent in the league this term and repeat the performances that saw them beat Leinster A and Ealing Trailfinders last season.

“We had a particularly young side last year, we are only a year older but we have recruited quite a lot of experience and hopefully that establishes some more consistency this season,” he added.

“We have addressed some of the issues around the size, profile and strength of our squad, we’ve bolster the front five in particular.

“Hopefully that’ll give us a much more solid foundation to play the rugby we want to play. Our focus is going to be on preparing as well as we can and being the best we can each week.

“Last year we stated quite openly we felt we had the capability to finish in the top half, and the same stands for this year.

“I think if things go particularly well we can kick on towards the top four but it’s different this year without the play-offs.”

The Greene King IPA Championship is the second tier of professional rugby in England. To keep up to date with the latest news and features follow @ChampRugby on Twitter